August 31, 2020

Study: Who should receive COVID-19 vaccine first?

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

This study, led by economists from Washington University in St Louis, finds that the ideal COVID-19 vaccine policy should emphasize age more than work-exposure risk for vaccination priority.

To provide a best-practice scenario to supplement a vaccine distribution strategy, the researchers tracked eight age groups in more than 454 occupations and factored in a worker’s contribution to output, as measured by GDP, infection fatality rate, and age.


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They then conducted three exercises plugging the data into their model:

  • Exercises one and two, which assumed no stay-at-home order and everyone returns to work, found 50-59 and 60-69 age groups should have vaccination priority.
  • Exercise three, which had targeted stay-at-home orders, such as teachers teaching online from home and workers aged 70-plus mandated to stay home, found younger workers, such as healthcare workers, aged 30-39 should have vaccination priority.

If the model included infection risk in social and home life as well as work, the analysis tilts even more toward the elderly, the researchers say.

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