The primary issue in this paper is to determine whether mobility restrictions or securing social interactions is most effective in countering an epidemic disease that spreads also via asymptomatic transmission. We develop an optimal control policy model wherein i) treatment capabilities are endogenous, ii) the social loss due to disease-related deaths is part of the tradeoff in terms of health and social welfare perspectives, iii) the policymaker's inability to counter the disease gives rise to growing popular discontent over time, and iv) nontherapeutic intervention policy engenders social fatigue over time. We also allow for partial immunity upon recovery. In many ways, our model applies to the recent pandemic caused by the SARS-Cov-2 virus. In this setup, we identify which non-therapeutic policy option between mobility restrictions or securing social interactions most effectively minimizes both the impact of policymaker’s inability and the ensuing popular discontent and social fatigue.
(with Eugene Khmelnitsky and Suresh P. Sethi)