Questions and answers about coronavirus and the UK economy

Science, technology & innovation

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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Funded by

UKRI Economic and Social Research Council
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