The COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted global health and economies, prompting governments to deploy two primary strategies – vaccines and lockdowns – to mitigate its impacts. Understanding how these two measures may complement or substitute each other is imperative to finding the best mitigation strategies for future pandemics.

A study by an international research team including researchers from the IIASA Economic Frontiers Program, examined the complex relationship between lockdown policies and vaccination efforts. By employing a dynamic optimization model that included epidemiological and economic factors, the researchers aimed to provide insights into the optimal balance between these measures.

The authors found that the interplay between lockdowns and vaccinations is nuanced and dependent on various factors. While in some scenarios, lockdowns may complement vaccination efforts, in others, they might act as substitutes. In developing countries, for instance, easing lockdown restrictions could be beneficial after substantial shares of the population are vaccinated. The optimal approach may, however, differ based on specific  circumstances, highlighting the need for tailored strategies.

The study’s findings provide a valuable framework for policymakers to navigate the transition from initial lockdowns to widespread vaccination. This guidance is particularly valuable in efforts to prepare for future pandemics  and emphasizes the importance of investing in vaccine research and production capacity as a preventive measure. By striking a balance between lockdowns and vaccinations, governments can optimize public health  outcomes while mitigating economic repercussions, ultimately fostering resilience in the face of future pandemics.

Further info: