Are the COVID19 restrictions really worth the cost? A comparison of estimated mortality in Australia from COVID19 and economic recession.

Neil Bailey, Daniel West

Research output: Other contributionResearch


There has been considerable public debate about whether the economic impact of the current COVID19 restrictions are worth the costs. Although the potential impact of COVID19 has been modelled extensively, very few numbers have been presented in the discussions about potential economic impacts. For a good answer to the question - will the restrictions cause as much harm as COVID19? - credible evidence-based estimates are required, rather than simply rhetoric. Here we provide some preliminary estimates to compare the impact of the current restrictions against the direct impact of the virus. Since most countries are currently taking an approach that reduces the number of COVID19 deaths, the estimates we provide for deaths from COVID19 are deliberately taken from the low end of the estimates of the infection fatality rate, while estimates for deaths from an economic recession are deliberately computed from double the high end of confidence interval for severe economic recessions. This ensures that an adequate challenge to the status quo of the current restrictions is provided. Our analysis shows that strict restrictions to eradicate the virus are likely to lead to at least eight times fewer total deaths than an immediate return to work scenario.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputonline
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2020

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