[TOTM: The following is part of a blog series by TOTM guests and authors on the law, economics, and policy of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The entire series of posts is available here.
The outbreak of SARS-Cov2 and the disease it causes, COVID-19, is a pandemic on a scale that is unprecedented in our lifetimes. Already hundreds of thousands of people have been infected and thousands have died. In an attempt to “flatten the curve” of the disease and thereby avoid overburdening healthcare systems, governments around the world have imposed all manner of restrictions on movement and social gathering.
The combination of the disease itself and these restrictions is having adverse economic effects. But at the same time we are also witnessing many responses that demonstrate the resilience and dynamism of society. In order more effectively to reduce the scale and mitigate the effects of the pandemic, it is important to understand what can and should be done by both public and private sectors.
For example, to what extent — if any — does concentration in the economy help or hinder pandemic responses? What are the most effective mechanisms to incentivize the development of cures and vaccines for COVID-19 (and, indeed, other diseases)? Are there government-created barriers to the supply of essential goods and services, such as medicines and healthcare practitioners, whose temporary suspension might reduce the burdens we all face? What are the most effective ways to communicate truthful information and public health messages to the public? Can modern information technology be more effectively harnessed to identify outbreaks, as well as offer insights into more effective treatments?
Truth on the Market and the International Center for Law & Economics will therefore be featuring an ongoing blog series, starting this week, that looks at opportunities to innovate in response to the pandemic, as well as the tradeoffs involved in different public policy responses to the crisis. We are inviting posts from experts to address these topics, and will welcome thoughtful feedback from our readers as well.
We will continue to invite new participants and address new issues as the crisis unfolds. As we line up new participants and as their contributions are posted we will update the blog series landing page here; you will always be able to find the most recent post in the series at the top of the page here (with previous posts in reverse chronological order below it).