The lesson of the “Spanish flu”: do not remove the restrictions ahead of time (Bloomberg, USA)

A hundred years ago, during the epidemic of Spanish influenza or “Spanish flu” quarantine has not led to a significant reduction in the number of deaths — because it lasted long enough, according to a new study, which may affect the course of the epidemic covid-19.

“Probable cause” why the closure of schools, bans on public gatherings and the quarantine, isolation and other measures in various cities of the USA did not save many lives — because they are “on average lasted only a month,” writes Harvard University economist Robert Barro (Robert Barro).

“The lesson for the ongoing pandemic coronavirus in 2020 is that to reduce total mortality non-drug methods used should be kept much longer than a few weeks. Most likely, in 12 weeks they will work a lot better than 4-6 weeks,” writes Barro working paper National Bureau of economic research.

Economic losses from prolonged quarantine Barro does not take into account. However, in the email he writes that any reduction in GDP must be weighed against the economic value of saving lives. One life is estimated at 10 million dollars, starting from rough estimates of how much people will charge for work associated with increased risk of death. According to him, even with 12-week quarantine the benefits outweigh the costs.