TITLE: Optimal Targeted Lockdowns for COVID-19 in a Multi-Group SIR Model
SPEAKER: Daron Acemoglu, Institute Professor Department of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
ABSTRACT: This colloquium will investigate targeted lockdowns using a multi-group SIR model, in which infection, hospitalization, and fatality rates vary among groups—in particular among young, middle-aged, and old patients. The model—developed by PI Daron Acemoglu with MIT Economics Professors Victor Chernozhukov, Iván Werning, and Michael Whinston—enables a tractable quantitative analysis of optimal policy. For baseline parameter values for the COVID-19 pandemic as applied to the United States, Daron Acemoglu and his colleagues find that optimal policies differentially targeting risk/age groups significantly outperform optimal uniform policies and most of the gains can be realized by having stricter lockdown policies on the oldest group. Intuitively, a strict and long lockdown for the most vulnerable group both reduces infections and enables less strict lockdowns for the lower risk groups. The colloquium also will investigate: the impacts of group distancing, testing, and contract tracing; the matching technology; and the expected arrival time of a vaccine for optimal policies. Overall, Acemoglu’s model indicates targeted policies combined with measures that reduce interactions among groups and increase testing and isolation of the infected can minimize both economic losses and deaths.