Exploring equity in health and poverty impacts of control measures for SARS-CoV-2 in six countries

Sedona Sweeney, Theo Prudencio Juhani Capeding, Rosalind Eggo, Maryam Huda, Mark Jit, Don Mudzengi, Nichola R. Naylor, Simon Procter, Matthew Quaife, Lela Serebryakova, Sergio Torres-Rueda, Veronica Vargas, Anna Vassall

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Background Policy makers need to be rapidly informed about the potential equity consequences of different COVID-19 strategies, alongside their broader health and economic impacts. While there are complex models to inform both potential health and macro-economic impact, there are few tools available to rapidly assess potential equity impacts of interventions. Methods We created an economic model to simulate the impact of lockdown measures in Pakistan, Georgia, Chile, UK, the Philippines and South Africa. We consider impact of lockdown in terms of ability to socially distance, and income loss during lockdown, and tested the impact of assumptions on social protection coverage in a scenario analysis. Results In all examined countries, socioeconomic status (SES) quintiles 1-3 were disproportionately more likely to experience income loss (70% of people) and inability to socially distance (68% of people) than higher SES quintiles. Improving social protection increased the percentage of the workforce able to socially distance from 48% (33%-60%) to 66% (44%-71%). We estimate the cost of this social protection would be equivalent to an average of 0.6% gross domestic product (0.1% Pakistan-1.1% Chile). Conclusions We illustrate the potential for using publicly available data to rapidly assess the equity implications of social protection and non-pharmaceutical intervention policy. Social protection is likely to mitigate inequitable health and economic impacts of lockdown. Although social protection is usually targeted to the poorest, middle quintiles will likely also need support as they are most likely to suffer income losses and are disproportionately more exposed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere005521
JournalBMJ Global Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2021


  • COVID-19
  • health economics


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