Decentralized governance may lead to higher infection levels and sub-optimal releases of quarantines amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Adam Lampert

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Received date: 19th May 2020

The outbreak of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has lead countries worldwide to administer quarantine policies. However, each country or state decides independently what mobility restrictions to administer within its borders, while aiming to maximize its own citizens’ welfare. In turn, since individuals travel between countries and states, at least during periods when quarantines are less restrictive, the policy in one country may ultimately affect the infection level in other countries. Therefore, major questions are whether the policy dictated by a decentralized government is efficient, and if not, how the governments can coordinate a better policy. Here, we focus on the decision regarding the timing of releasing the quarantines. We consider a game theory model in which each of two governments decides when to switch from a restrictive to a non-restrictive quarantine and vice versa. We used parameter values driven by the literature and publically available data. We show that, if travel is sufficiently frequent during the non-restrictive quarantine periods, then the strategies are sub-optimal: Each governor tends to release the quarantine sooner, which ultimately leads to longer periods of restrictive quarantines and a higher prevalence of the disease. In turn, if the governments restrict international and interstate travel to a low level even when the quarantines are non-restrictive, the policy dictated by the decentralized governance may become optimal.

Read in full at medRxiv.

This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on a preprint server, which is currently undergoing peer review at Scientific Reports. The findings have yet to be thoroughly evaluated, nor has a decision on ultimate publication been made. Therefore, the results reported should not be considered conclusive, and these findings should not be used to inform clinical practice, or public health policy, or be promoted as verified information.

Scientific Reports

Nature Research, Springer Nature