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Summers Says Covid-19 Will End Up Costing U.S. $16 Trillion

  • Economist says pandemic four times as costly as last recession
  • Urges U.S. to invest permanently in more tracing, testing
Larry Summers
Larry SummersPhotographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

The Covid-19 pandemic will exact a $16 trillion toll on the U.S. -- four times the cost of the Great Recession -- when adding the costs of lost lives and health to the direct economic impact, according to former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and fellow Harvard University economist David Cutler.

About half of that amount is related to lost gross domestic product as a result of economic shutdowns and the ongoing spread of the virus, while the other half comes from health losses including premature death and mental and long-term health impairments, Cutler and Summers wrote in an essay published online Monday in in the Journal of the American Medical Association.