Recently, due to the corona virus outbreak, pandemics and their effects have been at the forefront of the research agenda. However, estimates of the perceived value of early warning systems (EWSs) for identifying, containing, and mitigating outbreaks remain scarce. This paper aims to show how potential health gains due to an international EWS might be valued. This paper reports on a study into willingness to pay (WTP) in six European countries for health gains due to an EWS. The context in which health is gained, those affected, and the reduction in risk of contracting the disease generated by the EWS are varied across seven scenarios. Using linear regression, we analyse this ‘augmented’ willingness to pay for a QALY (WTP-Q) for each of the scenarios, where ‘augmented’ refers to the possible inclusion of context specific elements of value, such as feelings of safety. An initial WTP-Q estimate for the basic scenario is €17,400. This can be interpreted as a threshold for investment per QALY into an EWS. Overall, WTP estimates move in the expected directions (e.g. higher risk reduction leads to higher WTP). However, changes in respondents’ WTP for reductions in risk were not proportional to the magnitude of the change in risk reduction. This study provided estimates of the monetary value of health gains in the context of a pandemic under seven scenarios which differ in terms of outcome, risk reduction and those affected. It also highlights the importance of future research into optimal ways of eliciting thresholds for investments in public health interventions.
Bibliographical noteJEL Classifcation I18 · H41
The data collection was funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant agreement No. 643476) and part of the COMPARE project ( http://www.compare-europe.eu/ ). S.F.W. Himmler receives funding from a Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellowship financed by the European Commission (Grant agreement No. 721402).
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