Questions and answers about coronavirus and the UK economy

Science, technology & innovation

Data: The vaccine and the stock market

Figure showing Pfizer & AstraZeneca share prices Read more

Could a national investment bank support recovery from the Covid-19 crisis?

The unprecedented challenges brought by coronavirus will require an investment-led recovery at a time when confidence in the economy is weak. The establishment of a national investment bank could foster a more positive climate for growth, promoting innovation, employment and improved productivity.

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Will coronavirus accelerate the move towards a cashless economy?

The use of cash fell substantially in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic with the acceleration in online shopping and contactless payments – but cash usage has bounced back as lockdown has eased. Long-term prospects for retail payments remain uncertain.

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How is coronavirus affecting the banking sector?

While the banking sector will be negatively affected by the pandemic, it is also critical for economic recovery. But the crisis will strengthen competitive pressures on banks by accelerating trends towards digitalisation and new financial service providers.

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What will coronavirus mean for innovation by firms?

While some firms have introduced some important innovations in response to the crisis, the experience of past recessions suggests that innovative activities by the private sector are likely to be dampened for several years following the pandemic.

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Why is Germany's Covid-19 fatality rate comparatively low?

Coronavirus deaths per one million people in Germany are much lower than in France, Italy, Spain and the UK. Explanations include earlier protective measures; an economy better able to accommodate remote work; a well-resourced healthcare system; and high levels of public trust in government.

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Can the UK achieve net-zero emissions in a post-Covid-19 economic recovery?

Getting the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change to ‘net-zero’ by 2050 will require significant technological advances. How can that ambitious goal still be achieved while ensuring employment and growth in the aftermath of coronavirus?

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What has Covid-19 revealed about the adequacy of UK digital infrastructure?

Lockdown led to an initial surge in internet traffic as many people switched to working from home – a shift that looks likely to persist. Can we rely on our digital infrastructure? And how big are the inequalities in access?

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Why are people in some socio-economic groups more vulnerable to coronavirus?

Covid-19 infections and mortality have been more prevalent among disadvantaged groups of people in the UK and elsewhere. Differences in vulnerability seem to result from a combination of socio-economic differences in exposure to the disease, health behaviours and health conditions.

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Can we get accurate short-term forecasts of coronavirus cases and deaths?

In a pandemic, policy-makers need to plan healthcare provision carefully and adjust the intensity of measures to mitigate the spread of the virus. That requires real-time forecasts of cases and deaths that are timely and accurate indicators of what will happen over the next week or so.

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How should we allocate limited capacity for coronavirus testing?

Re-opening the economy while minimising infections requires testing – but capacity is limited. To target testing well, policy-makers must consider the types, quality and timing of tests, the costs of errors and the risks of infection across different social groups.

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Why should students pay university fees if all lectures are online?

University lectures for large groups are unlikely to be possible in the next academic year. Students should be asking whether the alternative educational model being proposed will be worse, the same or even better than what has been traditionally offered in higher education.

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What are the key sources of data for measuring the economy in a crisis?

Official statistics are the standard source of information about the economy. But when, as now, economic activity is falling sharply, alternative indicators of what’s happening to households and businesses are invaluable. Where else should decision-makers look?

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Do we make informed decisions when sharing our personal data?

The use of digital technologies to fight Covid-19 raises questions about public access to private data. It also shines a light on how people make economic decisions with regards to their personal data and information.

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Can textual analysis be used to track the economy during the pandemic?

Newspaper articles and social media posts often feature discussion of economic conditions and economic indicators. During the coronavirus crisis, can textual analysis be used to turn these qualitative data into a numerical measure to help us to understand the ‘real-time’ health of the economy?

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What is the likely impact of remote learning on educational outcomes?

Even before the Covid-19 crisis, online learning was becoming increasingly prevalent in higher education. Now it is happening in schools during lockdown, what do we know about its impact on students’ performance? And is there a danger it will widen educational inequalities?

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How can we encourage medical breakthroughs to combat Covid-19?

Public and private sector organisations across the world are working on vaccines and medicines to fight the coronavirus. What kinds of incentives are most effective in promoting the development of new medical technologies and the rapid manufacture of tests and treatments?

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UKRI Economic and Social Research Council
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