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Coronavirus health measures have improved significantly during the first quarter of 2022, according to a survey of experts. On average, assessments were up 10 points compared to the previous quarter. Moreover, the respondents favored a further easing of restrictions. These are among the findings of the latest Economic Experts Survey (EES) – a global quarterly survey conducted by the ifo Institute and the Swiss Economic Policy Institute – which this time had 1,603 participants from 132 countries.

“While protecting public health has been the priority during the pandemic, the economic cost of the coronavirus has been high,” says ifo researcher Niklas Potrafke. “The relatively mild effects of the Omicron variant mean that restrictions can now be eased considerably.”

Calls to ease current restrictions were particularly common among respondents from Asia and Europe. In only four out of 18 regions, especially in Africa (Figure 1), did the respondents recommend a mild tightening of restrictions. “Easing restrictions hinges on the availability of vaccines. The number of people in African countries who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 is still comparatively low,” Potrafke says.

The panel was also asked about fiscal policy designed to cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Participants rated coronavirus fiscal policy for most of Asia and Europe as much better than in the previous quarter, and for Central Africa as much worse. Overall, they recommend more expansive fiscal policy. The survey ran from February 16 to March 2, 2022.

Please note: The figure shows the regional mean of the questions “How do you rate your country’s current Covid-19 public health measures?” (left panel) and “How would you change your country’s current Covid-19 public health measures?” (right panel). The panel was asked for a comparison with the previous quarter, with possible answers ranging from −100 (“worse”) to +100 (“better”) or from −100 (“stricter”) to +100 (“looser”). The data is first averaged at the country level and then within 18 world regions.

Source: ifo Institute