Special Covid-19 Series, Issue #41

Autore : Action Institute

Data: 19-07-2021

Tipo: Other

Tematica: Action Institute

Hello, Action Institute Community!

While the COVID-19 pandemic is hurting the global economy, we at Action Institute aim at delivering a whole-rounded perspective, cutting through the noise.
Our weekly Special series approaches the effects of the virus from different perspectives: from medical facts to health policy, from economic policy to macroeconomic issues, from politics to financial markets, from technology to the impact on businesses, and more. We encourage our esteemed readers to provide us with feedback and suggestions.

This weekly issue proposes a selection of papers and articles focused on (i) Medical Facts and (ii) Social Impact.




“Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability.”, William Osler


 “How effective are coronavirus vaccines against the Delta variant?” (FT, Donato Paolo Mancini and John Burn-Murdoch, July 9th, 2021). As rising coronavirus infections force some countries to reimpose restrictions, scientists and drugmakers are racing to answer a crucial question: How well do the current vaccines protect against the Delta variant? The following article shows the result of real-world studies on the effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines on the Delta and Alpha variants. It concludes that Pfizer and AstraZeneca still offer a strong protection against severe diseases.

 “Tracking COVID-19 excess deaths across countries” (Economist, July 13th, 2021). Official death tolls undercount the total number of victims from COVID-19 because of lack of testing, delays in processing death certificates, and its effects on treatments of other diseases. To solve these methodological issues, predictive models allow to estimate the number of “excess deaths” that can be associated to COVID-19 fatalities. Western and South-Eastern Europe as well US East Coast suffered large numbers of excess deaths in early 2020 and in Autumn again, while Latin America and Russia have the largest excess-mortality gaps in late 2020. On the contrary, Israel and Northern Europe recorded the lowest values of excess deaths.

 “How Should Countries Study Viruses Safely?” (Carnegie Endowment, Shruti Sharma, July 14th, 2021). The uncertain origin of the coronavirus has focused attention on gain-of-function research, which refers to experimentation that enhances the potency of a virus and therefore studies how viruses grow and spread. This article will analyse how countries can work together to ensure stringent safety standards. It concludes that collective action at the national level is important to manage both outbreaks that arise naturally and from a laboratory and to build robust global processes.




“Society is unity in diversity.”, George Herbert Mead



 “Women and E-Commerce: The $300 Billion Opportunity” (Council of Foreign Relations, June 22nd, 2021). The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on the potential, and the limitations, of the digital economy, but technological advances do not always decode into advances in equality for women. An example of this gender gap is e-commerce in emerging markets. This article proposes a set of actions that can be taken to reduce the diparity: training for female entrepreneurs, financial technology offerings for women, incentives for value-added service and collection of sex-disaggregated data. 

 “COVID-19 and mental health: A longitudinal population study through 2020” (, Hans Hvide and Julian Vedeler Johnsen, July 7th, 2021). The mental health implications of the COVID-19 pandemic are less well documented than its physical effects. This article examines newly released data on doctor’s appointments in Norway and finds evidence of a psychological health pandemic that took hold during the autumn of 2020. Although earlier that summer the number of consultations related to mental health issues resembled that of previous years, during the autumn of 2020 this number grew substantially, a trend that continued through the winter months and warrants the attention of policymakers.

 “The rising cost of housing” (CEPS, Daniel Gros and Farzaneh Shamsfakhr, July 9th, 2021). The Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices used by the ECB does not account for housing costs, which are rising quickly since 2014: If the costs of Owner-Occupied Housing (OOH) were included, the measured inflation rate would get closer to 2%. Given that the post-pandemic boom in house prices is likely to increase this discrepancy between official measure of inflation and real increased cost of living, the article claims that it is urgent to incorporate OOH in euro-area inflation measures.

 “Epidemic exposure, fintech adoption, and the digital divide” (, Orkun Saka, Barry Eichengreen and Cevat Giray Aksoy, July 9th, 2021). Although epidemics are frequently cited as inducing changes in economic behaviour and accelerating technological and behavioural trends, there may be important differences across socioeconomic groups in ability to utilise such new technologies. This column studies these issues in the context of fintech adoption and finds strong evidence of epidemic-induced changes in economic and financial behaviour, of differences in the extent of such shifts by more and less economically advantaged individuals, and of a role for IT infrastructure in spreading or limiting the benefits of technological alternatives.  The results highlight both the behavioural response to epidemics and the digital divide.


Let me remind you that credit is the lifeblood of business, the lifeblood of prices and jobs.

Herbert Hoover […]


Good health is essential to social and economical development and it empowers all of the public sectors.

World Health Organization […]


Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship. The act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.

Peter Drucker […]

Human Capital

Talent is a source from which water flows constantly renewed. But this source loses its value unless it is properly used.

Ludwig Wittgenstein […]