Publication Type

Economic Policy for a Pandemic Age: How the World Must Prepare

Monica de Bolle (PIIE), Maurice Obstfeld (PIIE) and Adam S. Posen (PIIE), editors

PIIE Briefings 21-2
Economic Policy in a Pandemic Age



The global health and economic threats from the COVID-19 pandemic are not yet behind us. While the development of multiple safe and highly effective vaccines in less than a year is cause for hope, several significant dangers to recovery of global health and income are still clear and present: New concerning variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, continue to emerge at an alarming rate in different parts of the world; at the same time, vaccine rollouts have been shockingly inefficient even in some rich countries, while much of the developing world waits in line behind them for vaccines to arrive. While economic recovery in some hard-hit countries has been rapid, in many it has come partly from lockdown fatigue as governments relax business restrictions and individuals tolerate higher risk of infection. Taken together, these developments raise the real possibility that the current pandemic will persist at a dangerous level for years more. Moreover, the threat of future zoonotic or human-made pathogens will only rise over time in the absence of international cooperation to understand their origins and to correct the conditions that create them. In this PIIE Briefing, PIIE scholars set out some key lessons of the current response to COVID-19, along with policy recommendations to help prepare for the real possibility of a pandemic age. These recommendations include multilateral projects as well as coordinated actions by individual countries, all making the world more resilient to a slow ebb of the current pandemic and to future pandemics. The Briefing covers several policy areas in which cooperative forward-looking policy action will materially improve our chances of truly escaping today’s pandemic and making future pandemics less costly.


1. Economic policy for a pandemic age: An introduction
Monica de Bolle, Maurice Obstfeld, and Adam S. Posen

2. Novel viral variants: Why the world should prepare for chronic pandemics
Monica de Bolle

3. The pandemic is not under control anywhere unless it is controlled everywhere
Chad P. Bown, Monica de Bolle, and Maurice Obstfeld

4. US vaccine rollout must solve challenges of equity and hesitancy
David Wilcox

5. The European Union’s troubled COVID-19 vaccine rollout
Jacob Funk Kirkegaard

6. Lessons from East Asia and Pacific on taming the pandemic
Martin Chorzempa and Tianlei Huang

7. Persistent COVID-19: Exploring potential economic implications
Olivier Blanchard and Jean Pisani-Ferry

8. COVID-19 widens the gender gap in labor force participation
Simeon Djankov, Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg, Marie Hyland, and Eva (Yiwen) Zhang

9. Developing countries need greater financing and debt relief for COVID-19 and future pandemics
Adnan Mazarei

10. Here's how to get billions of COVID-19 vaccine doses to the world
Chad P. Bown and Thomas J. Bollyky

11. How to accelerate vaccine innovations to counter future pandemics
Reinhilde Veugelers

12. For a fairer fight against pandemics, ensure universal internet access
Mary E. Lovely and David Xu

In memory of Richard Newell Cooper, 1934-2020