A new report by the Legatum Institute provides a holistic analysis of the costs and benefits associated with re-opening schools in England at various points between now and the autumn.
Based on this understanding of the costs and benefits and using of the concept of Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) to assess health, social and economic costs on a consistent basis, the report demonstrates how decision makers can make an evidence-based assessment of the net social costs or benefits of opening schools on different dates.
The report also provides a sensitivity analysis to show how different assumptions about the underlying transmission rate (R) in society in the absence of any policy changes and the impact on R leading from schools re-opening affect the results.
The report finds that:
Baroness Philippa Stroud, CEO of Legatum Institute, said:
“Covid-19 has fundamentally impacted all of us – affecting our health, our relationships, and our livelihoods. Policy makers are now faced with an unenviable task of making choices on how to unwind restrictions in a way that balances significant health, economic, and social costs and benefits.
“To date, this has largely taken place without much publicly available information on the basis of and evidence for these decisions. But this report, and our original proof-of-concept tool, shows that does not need to be the case. Our research demonstrates that this difficult subject can be approached in an objective and structured fashion, so that decision makers can fully understand the complex issues at hand and the various costs and benefits of different courses of action.
“We believe that by using and building on this approach and the evidence it provides, the UK Government and others stand a greater chance of making decisions that deliver the best overall outcomes for individuals, families, and communities across the UK. Our approach also provides a way for policymakers and politicians to communicate the evidence behind, and build public trust in, the choices being made.”
* Unless a value of a QALY of two to three times the standard HM Treasury valuation is used.
** Unless vaccinations are not as effective as expected in bringing infection rate down