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How we brought together this living repository of evidence

We aim to support researchers, experts, decision-makers and their technical advisors in identifying and keeping up-to-date with COVID health economics literature. Learn about our methods for identifying and screening literature

COVID-19 has probably been the single most researched topic in history. Since the virus was first discovered in December 2019, the scientific community has worked tirelessly to inform decision-makers across the world. The production of scientific knowledge is unprecedented in its scale and speed: at its peak, about 2,400 papers were published each week on COVID (across all disciplines) (see We nearly now reached 80,000 pre-prints and peer reviewed papers. On top of this, we need to add the reports, working papers and news articles.

While without a doubt this has led to many successes in our collective efforts to control the virus, it has also made the task of identifying, screening and synthesizing literatures very difficult. Even for full time researchers, keeping up-to-date on what the new advances of scientific knowledge is nearly impossible; let alone for decision-makers and their advisors. As a result, we decided to create this repository of evidence to facilitate identification of relevant literature on health economics. For more information about why health economics is important, see our article on the topic.

Scope of the repository

We screened for literature on health economics. Because nearly all economics applied to COVID could be in theory characterised as ‘health economics’, we defined the following areas of interest to facilitate screening and categorisation of the literature.

  Tags Covers
Areas of interest Economic evaluation HTA, cost-effectiveness analysis, BCA, budget impact and financial cost (including Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions -NPIs-)
Costing studies Any health sector or societal economic costing study including both modelled and primary cost data collection
Health financing and HSS Studies estimating the fiscal space, budgeting, financing options for COVID or specific COVID interventions; any studies looking at COVID from the perspective of health systems strengthening (HSS)
Collateral health impacts Impact on access to health services. We excluded here studies modelling or estimating excess mortality (total or for a given disease area)
Macroeconomic impact Impact of COVID on economic sectors, employment, poverty, GDP, food security
Behavourial Changes in individual behaviour, whether health or non health, as a result of COVID
Equity Studies looking at COVID mortality or cases from a distributional perspective (gender, vulnerable, poverty, geographic, country income groups)


All articles were categorised along one of the above areas of interest; a given article could be classified with more than one area of interest.

Our database does not have any geographic focus.

Data sources

The references from the review were drawn from the following databases/sources: the National Institutes of Health (NiH) iSearch COVID-19 portfolio, American Economic Association Econlit, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) and the Center for Global Development.

If you wish to feature your resources in the repository, please write to us directly on with your suggestions.

On the NiH iSearch COVID-19 portfolio, we used the following query ‘econom* OR cost*’ to identify literature, searching the fields ‘title’ and ‘abstract’. Those search key terms were set after trialling an approach relying on more targeted searches with keywords building on the areas of interest, however, we chose to have broader search key terms to ensure broader inclusion of studies for screening.

For the other data sources, we considered all publications on COVID-19.

The first search was carried out on 18/03/2021. 12,215 citations in total were identified across all sources.

Screening: inclusions and exclusions

We applied the following rules to screen the literature, in addition to the areas of interest discussed above.

Screening Inclusion Exclusion
Explicitly focuses on COVID-19 AND health economics Does not explicitly study COVID-19
Pre-print research or methodological paper Publication before 2020
Peer-review research or methodological paper Newspaper or opinion pieces
Peer review commentary Clinical trials or studies
Methodological type: economic evaluations, cost studies, cost-effectiveness studies, cost of illness studies, cost-utility studies, macroeconomic impact studies Pure epidemiological study or disease modelling (e.g. on NPIs or modelling infections)
Report or press release if it is an original research Non-English studies
The whole world: can be city, state/province, country, regional, global; no country


Using the repository

We will aim to update the search results every month or 1.5 months, although always ensuring that our literature search covers the gaps between the updates. Updates will be noted on this page in the section below.

Because of the objectives of the repository, we do not expect this literature search to be as rigorous as other more ‘academic’ living maps of evidence. We followed robust methods for identification and screening of the literature; however, we worked as a team to screen all resources (given the volume of studies) as a result, there may be variations in inclusion patterns across different people. We did not do a double extraction on the variables: country, areas of interest and income groups. For more information on our screening process, please email

However, this repository is a unique resource for all to quickly identify relevant literatures using the country filters, areas of interest and country income group. Moreover, the function ‘keyword search’ will help users with more defined queries, searching from a pre-screened set of resources.

We aim for this repository to be a living, community-owned resource. If you have any suggestions on literatures that fit the areas of interests and inclusion criteria, please email us on In addition, feel free to email us if you want to make suggestions to help us improve the functionalities of the repository.


First screening: 01-01-2020-18-03-2021

Second screening: 18-03-2021-23-06-2021