Dr J. Jaime Caro Discusses Influence of HEOR, Public Health Amid COVID-19

J. Jaime Caro, MDCM, FACP, FRCPC, is chief scientist at Evidera, professor in practice at London School of Economics, and adjunct professor of medicine, epidemiology, and biostatistics at McGill University.

Public health and economic priorities played a significant role in several US decisions regarding COVID-19, said J. Jaime Caro, MDCM, FACP, FRCPC. Ahead of a plenary session at ISPOR 2021, Caro spoke on the overlooked trade-offs that have occurred in weighing both priorities.


Transcript

You will be moderating a plenary session at ISPOR 2021 on the scope of health economics and outcomes research (HEOR) and its application in public health. Can you speak on public health investment and infrastructure and its impact on the nationwide response to COVID-19?

Precisely the reason that we decided to hold this plenary to see if we could shed some light on this very complex issue. The broad outlines of it, of course, are relatively simple, and I think most people in some way or another have become aware of it because it has touched them via their job, via what's available to them, via travel, and many other ways.

What the pandemic has done, I think, has brought to the fore on the one hand, epidemiology, epidemiologists are very happy, because all of a sudden they have brand recognition in terms of a profession. And it hasn't really brought health economics or economics very much into the limelight, even though it is clearly a major crisis economically.

I was a bit puzzled by this, a bit surprised that we're not seeing that challenge, that trade-off be addressed. I think partly because the health circumstances, the deaths, the shock of a pandemic that can kill hundreds of thousands of people, make many of them very, very sick, and so on, kind of put economics to the side and we don't really want to think about it, but it's clearly there.

Many decisions made in the United States, for example, were made essentially on economic grounds, maybe political to a point, but economic priorities overriding public health ones. And so what we're hoping to do in this plenary is to foster this debate on a more technical basis, by bringing in speakers who have been in the thick of it, and can speak to how they arrived at their decisions. I'm hoping that we will be able to draw them out and hear from them how they came to their trade-offs, how they made those trade-offs.