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CEU Economic Seminar Series: The Political Economy of a Miracle Cure

Di Tella
Tuesday, April 26, 2022, 11:15 am – 12:30 pm

joint work with:

- Sebastian Calonico, Columbia University and

- Juan Cruz Lopez del Valle, Universidad de San Andres

We document the spread of nebulized Ibuprofen (NaIHS) as a cure for COVID-19 in Argentina. As the pandemic spread, this clinically unsupported treatment without regulatory approval reached more than 60,000 patients, even some that were seriously ill. Data from 5,000 patients across 11 hospitals allow us to obtain a reasonable matching on covariates. The correlation between use of NaIHS and death is negative and often statistically significant. Detailed data on drug deliveries for one large province allows us to investigate the role of social learning in its diffusion. Cities start using NaIHS when their neighbors use it and when those that use it are more successful in containing deaths. Cities run by one of the main political parties appear to be more likely to adopt NaIHS.