The price the UK government was prepared to pay to save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic was far lower than in many other developed nations, a study has revealed.
In a cross-country comparison across nine nations – Belgium, the US, Germany, Korea, Italy, Denmark, China, New Zealand and the UK – researchers used epidemiological modelling to calculate how many lives were lost through delaying lockdown, estimating that a UK lockdown date just three days earlier would have saved 20,000 lives.
They then linked those policy decisions to the financial cost lockdown had on GDP, resulting in a ‘price of life’ estimate – the amount of money governments were willing to pay to protect their citizens’ lives, reflected in the economic activity sacrificed.
The price of life in the UK was among the lowest at around $100,000, and lower still once under-reporting of COVID-19 deaths is accounted for. In contrast countries that were quicker to go into lockdown, such as Germany, New Zealand and South Korea, put a price on life in excess of $1million.
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