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February 18, 2021

How lockdown on the elderly can reduce deaths and help the economy

By Paul Dennis

18 February

Fabio Ghironi, an economist, retweeted an article on the macroeconomics of age-specific containment measures for Covid-19.

Much of the world data has revealed that the elderly face a higher risk of dying from the coronavirus disease.

Experts believe that policymakers can limit Covid mortalities at a lower economic cost using age-specific containment measures that focus on reduced social interactions between the old and the young.

Economists are working on a combination of economic and epidemiological models that assesses the potential risk factors and payoffs of considering different strategies to tackle the pandemic.

A susceptible-infected-removed-age macro model compares optimal economic shutdown and social distancing policies.

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The model found that for a given economic shutdown, uniform social distancing measures were less effective compared to age-specific measures.

For example, data revealed reduced Covid deaths when social distancing was strictly imposed on retirees and only mildly imposed on young people.

In addition, a more extreme measure to enhance social distancing between the young and the retirees caused fewer deaths among the elderly.

It was also realised that the cumulative gross domestic production (GDP) contraction was significantly less severe with efforts to reduce contact between retirees and the rest of the population.

The basic takeaway from the model and its result was that the retirees face a higher mortality risk and contribute less towards economic activity.

Meanwhile, the additional advantage of reduced deaths achieved through economic shutdown is meagre.

Social distancing alone could achieve the same reduction in Covid-related death tolls as against an economic shutdown, but with lesser reduction in output.

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