Identifying optimal COVID-19 policies is challenging. Therefore, COVID-19-related policy decisions must be made in the context of substantial uncertainty, a significant challenge for policy makers. In this complex environment it is increasingly important that the benefits and drawbacks of interventions are rigorously and systematically compared – including from a cost effectiveness perspective
Joshua Szanyi, Tim Wilson, Samantha Howe, Jessie Zeng, Hassan Andrabi, Shania Rossiter, Tony Blakely


In this study, we used an agent-based model to estimate morbidity, mortality, and costs over an 18-month period beginning 1 April 2022 for each scenario. Policy options were ranked on cost-effectiveness (health system only and health system plus GDP perspectives), deaths and days exceeding hospital occupancy thresholds.


The median number of infections across the 44 policies was 6.2 million (range of medians 5.4 to 7.1 million). Higher stringency PHSMs ranked better from a health system perspective, but not a health system plus GDP perspective. The provision of respirators had minimal impact. Vaccinating all age groups was superior to both no further vaccination and targeted vaccination of individuals aged ≥ 60 years. The optimal combined policy was the rollout of a multivalent vaccine to all age groups with higher stringency PHSMs and no respirator provision.

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First published: Feb 6, 2023
Population Interventions Unit
The Population Interventions Unit is a research group at the University of Melbourne that investigates health and cost impacts of population interventions.