About the presentation

Recent clinical research finds that rapid transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is facilitated by substantial undocumented asymptomatic infections. Asymptomatic infections have implications for behavioural response to voluntary testing. The paper argues that a substantial proportion of SARS-CoV-2 infections are ‘hidden’ due to rational test avoidance behaviour among those without symptoms. However, test avoidance may decrease in response to external and observable signals of disease threat – such as, reported infection prevalence rate.

I propose an analytical framework that explicitly incorporates a prevalence-dependent testing and isolation behaviour in a standard epidemiological model, generating distinctive equilibrium epidemiological outcomes with significant policy implications. Numerical simulations show that failure to consider endogenous testing behaviour among asymptomatic individuals leads to over- and underestimation of infection rates at the peaks and troughs, respectively, thereby distorting COVID-19 containment policies. The results underscore the importance of augmenting testing capacity as an effective mitigation policy.

About the presenter

Dr. Sarkar is a Senior Lecturer in Economics at the Queensland University of Technology with a wide range of interest from macroeconomics to applied, behavioural and health economics. His research in health economics has recently been presented with the prestigious ‘best paper award by an Australian’ by the Australian Health Economics Society. His current research includes occupational variations in health outcomes, effects of early preschool attendance on child health and behavioural implications of daylight saving.


Level 4
Joyce Ackroyd Building
UQ St Lucia
UQ Business School Boardroom (37-430)