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Int J Epidemiol ; 50(4): 1114-1123, 2021 08 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1132506


BACKGROUND: There is a real possibility of successive COVID-19-epidemic waves with devastating consequences. In this context, it has become mandatory to design age-selective measures aimed at achieving an optimal balance between protecting public health and maintaining a viable economic activity. METHODS: We programmed a Susceptible, Exposed, Infected, Removed (SEIR) model in order to introduce epidemiologically relevant age classes into the outbreak-dynamics analysis. The model was fitted to the official death toll and calculated age distribution of deaths in Wuhan using a constrained linear least-squares algorithm. Subsequently, we used synthetic location-specific and age-structured contact matrices to quantify the effect of age-selective interventions both on mortality and on economic activity in Wuhan. For this purpose, we simulated four different scenarios ranging from an absence of measures to age-selective interventions with stronger physical-distancing measures for older individuals. RESULTS: An age-selective strategy could reduce the death toll by >30% compared with the non-selective measures applied during Wuhan's lockdown for the same workforce. Moreover, an alternative age-selective strategy could allow a 5-fold increase in the population working on site without a detrimental impact on the death toll compared with the Wuhan scenario. CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that age-selective-distancing measures focused on the older population could have achieved a better balance between COVID-19 mortality and economic activity during the first COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan. However, the implications of this need to be interpreted along with considerations of the practical feasibility and potential wider benefits and drawbacks of such a strategy.

COVID-19 , Communicable Disease Control , Humans , Models, Theoretical , Physical Distancing , SARS-CoV-2