Quality adjusted life years in the time of COVID-19

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australian Health Review, 2021, 45, (1), pp. 12-13
Issue Date:
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The quality adjusted life year (QALY) as a basis of valuing additional expenditure on health is widely accepted. Although early in the COVID-19 pandemic, several commentators called for a similar approach in resolving trade-offs between economic activity and reducing the burden of COVID-19, this has not occurred. The value of a QALY has not been used to deny all intervention, as the rule of rescue attests. Further, while there was no other way of managing the pandemic, there were other means available to mitigate the economic losses. Now that vaccine programs have commenced in several countries, it is interesting to consider whether economic evaluation should now be applied. However, the recognised complexities of the evaluation of vaccines, plus the challenge of measuring opportunity costs in the face of an economic recession and the severity of the consequences of an outbreak even though the probability of transmission is exceedingly low, mean its use will be restricted. COVID-19 has changed everything, even the way we should think about economic evaluation.
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