Would the United States Benefit from a COVID Lockdown? Reassessing the Situation
33 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2021
Date Written: February 20, 2021
Though COVID vaccines have become available in United States in December 2020, the speed of vaccinations remains slow. In the meantime, the virus continues to claim thousands of lives every day. I estimate that with the promised rate of vaccinations, if no additional non-pharmaceutical interventions are implemented, 156 thousand more lives will be lost, and the future cost of the pandemic will reach nearly one trillion dollars, or 5% of GDP. I assess whether it is optimal for the United States to follow the lead of many European countries and introduce a nation-wide lockdown. A lockdown would be indeed optimal and, depending on the assumptions, it should last between two and four weeks and will generate a net benefit of up to $508 billion. A lockdown should last even longer and its net benefit could nearly triple if the more transmissible "U.K. variant" of the virus becomes prevalent in the U.S. in the future.
Keywords: COVID-19, Pandemic Curve, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions, Public Health Policy, Lockdown, Vaccinations
JEL Classification: I10, I18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation