If the objective is herd immunity, on whom should it be built?

Gollier, C., (2020), If the objective is herd immunity, on whom should it be built?, Environmental and Resource Economics 76, 671-683. Prepublished in Covid Economics 16, 98-114.

Assuming that there is no other solution than herd immunity infront of the current pandemic, on which categories of citizens shouldwe build this herd immunity? Given the fact that young people face amortality rate which is at least a thousand times smaller than peopleaged 65 and more, there is a simple rational to build it on these younger generations. The transfer of some mortality risk to younger peopleraises difficult ethical issues. However, none of the familiar moral or operational guidelines (equality of rights, VSL, QALY, revealed preference, stated preference) that have been used in the Western world over the last century weights the value of young lives 1000 times or more than the lives of the elders. This suggests that Society could offer covid protection to the elders by confining them as long as this herd immunity has not been attained by the younger generations. This would be a potent demonstration of intergenerational solidarity towards the most vulnerable people in our community. The welfare gain of this age-specific deconfinement strategy is huge, as it can reduce the global death toll by more than 80%.

Leave a Reply