This paper shows that the optimal combination of social distancing and case detection allows for complete and efficient eradication of COVID-19. The first contribution is theoretical. I show that the optimal suppression-policy is a simple function of observable sufficient-statistics, making it easily implementable. I prove that optimal social distancing is the strongest when an outbreak is detected, and then gradually relaxed. If case detection is sufficiently efficient, social distancing vanishes wholly and quickly; otherwise, it needs to stay in place until a vaccine arrives. The second contribution is quantitative. I find that, if Italy adopts digital contact tracing, total suppression costs only 0.8% of annual GDP. In sharp contrast, under the current detection efficiency, the total cost of suppression amounts to at least 14% of GDP.
Stefan Pollinger, “Optimal Case Detection and Social Distancing Policies to Suppress COVID-19”, TSE Working Paper, n. 20-1109, May 2020, revised January 2021.
TSE Working Paper, n. 20-1109, May 2020, revised January 2021