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Cambridge-INET Institute   COVID-19 Economic Research


For many years, Flavio Toxvaerd has been working, writing and speaking on the economics of infectious diseases, to both economists, public policy specialists and epidemiologists. He has conducted detailed studies on issues such as the optimal control of epidemics though vaccines, treatment and social distancing, the optimal control of diseases when infection is endemic and the optimal management of population immunity using vaccines and antivirals.

He has also considered issues of individual incentives and decision making, and how to best align private incentives with public health goals. Lastly, he has worked on the issue of individual decision making when diseases are asymptomatic, with an emphasis on the effects of individuals’ beliefs, risk attitudes and propensity to fatalism.

Apart from his academic research, he has also engaged with policy on the topic. He served as the Senior Economic Advisor to the Independent Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, jointly set up by HM Government and the Wellcome Trust, and acted as Facilitator at the International Monetary Fund’s Antimicrobial Resistance and Pandemics Symposium, held in Washington DC, on 12th February 2019.

Flavio has published a Working Paper on ‘Equilibrium social distancing’. In his new working paper, Flavio Toxvaerd revisits one of the most pressing issues of the day - social distancing. Taking an economist’s perspective to this issue, he asks how and when spontaneous social distancing may be expected to occur and what drives people’s efforts to protect themselves against infection. Rather than a top-down approach in which the government imposes social distancing by decree, Flavio Toxvaerd is interested in how each individual makes such decisions for themselves and how these in turn interact with and influence the course of the epidemic. He finds that even without any government intervention or legislation, spontaneous and non-coordinated social distancing will eventually occur, thereby helping to flatten the curve.

Recently, Flavio and Robert Rowthorn have published a new working paper, 'On the Management of Population Immunity', which considers a susceptible-infected-recovered type model of infectious diseases, such as COVID-19 or swine flu, in which costly treatment or vaccination confers immunity on recovered individuals. Once immune, individuals indirectly protect the remaining susceptibles, who benefit from a measure of herd immunity.

On August 28th 2020, Dr. Flavio Toxvaerd spoke about  Future Challenges for the Epi-Economics Literature on a panel with Oriana Bandiera and Daron Acemoglu at the EEA COVID-19 Symposium

Flavio also wrote a piece for the Economics Observatory on 28 August 2020 entitled Do-people-change-their-behaviour-when-face-masks-are-mandatory? He claims that 'people’s behaviour is likely to change when wearing masks, but it is uncertain whether the risk of infections will rise or fall'.

Miltiadis Makris and Flavio Toxvaerd have just published a working paper, 'Great Expectations: Social Distancing in Anticipation of Pharmaceutical Innovations'. This paper analyzes equilibrium social distancing behavior in a model where pharmaceutical innovations, such as effective vaccines and treatments, are anticipated to arrive in the future.


Related Blogs

Economics Observatory

Do People Change Their Behaviour When Face Masks Are Mandatory?

Flavio Toxvaerd


Bennett Institute for Public Policy Blog

Herd Immunity – Crucial Yet Irrelevant

Flavio Toxvaerd


Bennett Institute for Public Policy Blog

Waning Immunity and the Second Wave: Projections for COVID-19

Flavio Toxvaerd


Economics Observatory

The Epidemic and the Economy: What are the Trade-offs?

Flavio Toxvaerd


Bennett Institute for Public Policy Blog

From Epidemiology to Economic Policy

Flavio Toxvaerd


Bennett Institute for Public Policy Blog

Thought Experiments - Can Economic Models Help Disease Control?

Flavio Toxvaerd


Bennett Institute for Public Policy Blog

The Economics of Infection - An Economist's Journey into the Natural World"

Flavio Toxvaerd



Related Videos


September 7, 2020 - Flavio Toxvaerd

Dr Toxvaerd gave a symposium on future challenges for the epi-economics literature for the European Economic Association (EEA).



June 26, 2020

Dr Toxvaerd took part in CSaP's Science and Policy Podcast, to explore our current understanding of the immunology and of vaccines under development.



June 25, 2020

Dr Toxvaerd was part of Forbes HealthCare Week, which analyzed the other side of the pandemic crisis: the emotional impact and behavior of society.



June 22, 2020

Dr Toxvaerd took part in a London Business School webinar which looked at "how will people react as lockdown eases and the economy begins to restart?".



June 11, 2020

Dr Toxvaerd took part in a Stockholm School of Economics (SSE-CERN), Corona Economic Research Network webinar.



June 5, 2020

Dr Toxvaerd discussed "An Economist's Take on Epidemiology. Biology, Behaviour and Policy", at the fourth Cambridge-INET COVID Economics Alumni webinar.



April 28, 2020

Dr. Toxvaerd gives an overview of his recent paper and discusses how one can model social distancing under asymptomatic infection and the effects of population heterogeneity.



April 8, 2020

Integrated Economic Analysis Needed to Advance Short Term Decision-Making in the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic - Cornell University



April 3, 2020

Dr. Rupert Gatti talks with Dr. Flavio Toxvaerd about his research into understanding individuals behaviour in pandemics to formulate better policies.



March 19, 2020

Cambridge Enterprise & Technology Club hosted a live streamed seminar on ‘The Coronavirus: Global Impact’



July 4, 2019

MRC Epidemiology Unit Talk. Dr Toxvaerd spoke to a group of epidemiologists about how economists think about disease control.



This research was featured in the following media outlets:



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Science Media Centre - 30th September

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BBC 5 Live - interview starts at 2:36:10

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Dr Flavio Toxvaerd

About the author
Dr. Flavio Toxvaerd is a University Lecturer at the Faculty of Economics and Fellow of Clare College, University of Cambridge. His research interests are in Microeconomic Theory. Game Theory. Finance. Industrial Organisation. Economic Epidemiology.