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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.

Contacts, Altruism and Competing Externalities, Flavio Toxvaerd, (Cambridge-INET WP2116)

The Great COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout: Behavioral and Policy Responses, Christopher Auld and Flavio Toxvaerd, (Cambridge-INET WP2117)

Flavio has written an introduction for and had his paper The Great COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout: Behavioral and Policy Responses, published in a special edition of National Institute Economic Review, dedicated to Economic Contributions to Infection Control, Volume 257, Summer 2021.

Dr. Flavio Toxvaerd and Newton Gateway to Mathematics organised a three-day workshop on Modelling Behaviour to Inform Policy for Pandemics. The online event took place from Tuesday 2nd November 2021 to Friday 5th November 2021 and will brought together epidemiologists, economists, modelers and policy makers. Watch videos of the talks on the Newton Gateway to Mathematics website.

On Tuesday 22nd February 2022 they held a follow up workshop, "Behaviour and Policy During Pandemics: Models and Methods". Watch videos of the days talks on the Newton Gateway to Mathematics website.

Challenges of Integrating Economics into Epidemiological Analysis of and Policy Responses to Emerging Infectious Diseases, Ciara Dangerfield, Eli P. Fenichel, David Finnoff, Nick Hanley, Shaun Hargreaves Heape, Jason F. Shogren and Flavio Toxvaerd, (Epidemics, forthcoming, 2022)

On the Management of Population Immunity, Flavio Toxvaerd and Robert Rowthorn, (Journal of Economic Theory, forthcoming, 2022)

Rather Doomed than Uncertain: Risk Attitudes and Transmissive Behavior Under Asymptomatic Infection, Konstantin Matthies and Flavio Toxvaerd, (Economic Theory, accepted, 2022)


Related Blogs

Economics Observatory

How do vaccines affect the risks we face and the way we behave?

Flavio Toxvaerd


Economics Observatory

Should Patents on Covid-19 Vaccines be Waived?

Flavio Toxvaerd


Economics Observatory

How Does the Market for Vaccines Work?

Flavio Toxvaerd and Anthony McDonnell


Economics Observatory

Vaccine Nationalism: Why do some countries cooperate and others go it alone?

Flavio Toxvaerd and Tony Yates


Economics Observatory

The Pound-of-Flesh Fallacy: Do Lockdowns Simply Postpone The Pain Of Covid-19?

Flavio Toxvaerd, Ben Moll and Chryssi Giannitsarou


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 & Podcasts


October 21, 2022

Dr Toxvaerd spoke to VoxTalks podcast about his recent paper, "Epidemics in Space: Control, Targeting and Delegation".



May 23, 2022

Dr Toxvaerd spoke to Comedian Sammy Obeid about the impact of lockdowns and how to deal with the next pandemic.



April 7, 2022

Dr Toxvaerd spoke to Sebastian Galiani about his research into Economy and Epidemiology, Vaccine markets and contagious diseases.



November 23, 2021

Dr. Toxvaerd participated in a panel event for the Economics Observatory, "Talking Economics. A one-two punch: health and economics".



October 27, 2021

Dr Toxvaerd talks to Scott Barrett, Professor C. Jessica E. Metcalf, and Ramanan Laxminarayan about the challenges of ‘vaccine nationalism’.



October 1, 2021

Dr Toxvaerd explains how economics can be used to inform public health policy in a new podcast recorded by the London School of Economics.



May 6, 2021

Dr Toxvaerd presented at the workshop Bridging Disciplinary Divides for Behaviorally Modulated Mathematical Models in Human Epidemiology.



May 11, 2021

Dr Toxvaerd discussed The Economics of Vaccines in an interview with the At The Margin Podcast.



December 11, 2020

Dr Toxvaerd discussed his research into Game Theory, Industrial Organisation and Economic Epidemiology at the Adam Smith's Panmure House research seminar series.



November 25, 2020

Dr Toxvaerd gave a Clare College talk, which looked at how economists think about disease control and contrast it with the traditional approach adopted in epidemiology and public health.



November 9, 2020

Dr Toxvaerd took part in a roundtable discussion "The Economics of Covid-19 Suppression Measures", organised by the Tony Blair Institute For Global Change.



September 7, 2020

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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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.