Discussion Paper

Policy Response to Pandemic Influenza: The Value of Collective Action

Sep 22, 2011 | Georgiy Bobashev, Maureen L. Cropper, Joshua Epstein, Michael Goedecke, Stephen Hutton, Mead Over


This paper examines positive externalities and complementarities between countries in the use of antiviral pharmaceuticals to mitigate pandemic influenza. It demonstrates the presence of treatment externalities in simple SIR (susceptible-infectious-recovered) models and simulations of a Global Epidemiological Model. In these simulations, the pandemic spreads from city to city through the international airline network and from cities to rural areas through ground transport. While most treatment benefits are private, spillovers suggest that it is in the self-interest of high-income countries to pay for some antiviral treatment in low-income countries. The most cost-effective policy is to donate doses to the country where the outbreak originates; however, donating doses to low-income countries in proportion to their populations may also be cost-effective. These results depend on the transmissibility of the flu strain, its start date, the efficacy of antivirals in reducing transmissibility, and the proportion of infectious people who can be identified and treated.