Much has been revealed recently regarding the relative unpreparedness of Public Health Authorities and their governments in many countries. We show that a lack of preparedness for the Covid-19 pandemic resulted from four major types of shortcomings. First, even when there were problems noted in previous epidemics, clear plans were not put in place to deal with similar situations. Second, there was a lack of transparency through the years about whether plans had been implemented after they were written. Third, it wasn’t clear that authorities had considered ex ante the effects of pandemic policies on overall health (including mental health). Fourth, governments were largely unprepared to consider the interdependence of health and economic factors in a pandemic and how appropriate “lockdown”, income transfer, and loan policies could be implemented in practice. These shortcomings have increased the economic, health, and social costs of the pandemic. Because pandemics differ significantly, models have a very limited role early in a pandemic. To be the most useful later in a pandemic, they need to incorporate important heterogeneities across age groups and types of location. Importantly, to be useful in examining which policies might be best, they need to incorporate not only the way the disease spreads, but the interdependent effects on overall health and the economy.
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