Nearly all of the U.S. has been on lockdown to fight the spread of COVID-19, but newly published research by MIT economists argues that an “optimally targeted lockdown” might help protect the most vulnerable, while also protecting the economy.
The working paper, which can be found in the National Bureau of Economic Research and has not been peer-reviewed, looked at infection, hospitalization and death rates for three age groups — “young” (20-44), “middle-aged” (45-65) and “old” (65 and older). They were compared to rates resulting from strict lockdown for all age groups and the study found that a targeted lockdown was able to achieve “the majority of the gains from fully-targeted policies.”
“For example, a semi-targeted policy that involves the lockdown of those above 65 until a vaccine arrives can release the young and middle-aged groups back into the economy much more quickly, and still achieve a much lower fatality rate in the population (just above 1 [percent] of the population instead of 1.83 [percent] with the optimal uniform policy),” the authors wrote.
“This policy also reduces the economic damage from 24.3 [percent] to 12.8 [percent] of one year’s GDP. The reason is that, once the most vulnerable group is protected, the other groups can be reincorporated into the economy more quickly.”