Accelerating health technologies (AHT)


health technologY for covid-19

We are a group of economists and statisticians working on the problem of how to accelerate widespread access to vaccines and other health products to address COVID-19.

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Read full article in Science.

Each month, COVID-19 kills hundreds of thousands of people, reduces global gross domestic product (GDP) by hundreds of billions of dollars, and generates large, accumulating losses to human capital by harming education and health (14). Achieving widespread immunization 1 month faster would thus save many lives and mitigate short- and long-run economic harm. Although the value of vaccines may seem obvious, government action and investment in vaccines have not been commensurate with the enormous scale of benefits, with many countries not likely to achieve widespread immunization until the end of 2022.

We estimate below that installed capacity for 3 billion annual vaccine courses has a global benefit of $17.4 trillion, over $5,800 per course. Investing now in expanding capacity for an additional annual 1 billion courses could accelerate completion of widespread immunization by over 4 months, providing additional global benefits of $576 to $989 per course. This dwarfs prices of $6 to $40 per course seen in deals with vaccine producers, indicating the wide gap between social and commercial incentives. We urge governments and international organizations to contract with vaccine producers to further expand capacity and encourage measures described below to “stretch” existing capacity (such as lower-dose regimens) and efficiently allocate courses (such as a cross-country vaccine exchange).


Listen to the podcast on BBC Sounds or Apple Podcasts.

Michael Kremer is interviewed by Tim Harford for the BBC, and discusses incentives for vaccine development and production with Anna Mouser of the Wellcome Trust and Patrick Tippo of Biovac in South Africa.


Read the full article at NBER.

Vaccinating the world’s population quickly in a pandemic has enormous health and economic benefits. We analyze the problem faced by governments in determining the scale and structure of procurement for vaccines. We analyze alternative approaches to procurement. We find that if the goal is to accelerate the vaccine delivery timetable, buyers should directly fund manufacturing capacity and shoulder most of the risk of failure, while maintaining some direct incentives for speed. We analyzed the optimal portfolio of vaccine investments for countries with different characteristics as well as the implications for international cooperation. Our analysis, considered in light of the experience of 2020, suggests lessons for future pandemics.


Our team

Amrita Ahuja
Douglas B. Marshall, Jr. Family Foundation

Susan Athey
Stanford Graduate School of Business

Arthur Baker
Development Innovation Lab, University of Chicago

Eric Budish

The University of Chicago, Booth School

Owen Barder
Precision Agriculture for Development

Juan Camilo Castillo

University of Pennsylvania

Tasneem Chipty

AlixPartners

Rachel Glennerster
Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office

Michael Kremer
Development Innovation Lab, University of Chicago

Scott Kominers
Harvard Business School

Jean Lee
World Bank

Jonathan Levin
Stanford Graduate School of Business

Anup Malani

University of Chicago

Christopher Snyder
Dartmouth College

Canice Prendergast

The University of Chicago, Booth School

Alex Tabarrok
George Mason University

Brandon Tan
Harvard University

Duc Tran
Stanford Graduate School of Business

Witold Wiecek

We are grateful to many individuals and organizations who have given their time and expertise to inform our work. In particular, we thank Keystone Strategy, Whit Athey, Ph.D. (independent consultant, formerly Food and Drug Administration), Lisa Danzig, M.D. (independent consultant, formerly in senior leadership positions within the vaccines and diagnostics industry), and Mary Wu (independent consultant, formerly in leadership positions in vaccines and diagnostics industry).