A combined solution to loosening lockdown?

  • Date

    Thu 21 May 20

Photo of a mobile phone with a map on it

Adopting a trace and isolate approach, whilst maintaining moderate levels of social distancing could be the key to minimising the death toll as we come out of lockdown, according to new research from the UK and Germany.

Building on an existing epidemiological model called the SEIR model – which tracks the movement of people through the four different states of susceptible, exposed, infected and recovered - the researchers have created a model that has allowed them to study measures of epidemic control, such as tracing or protection of vulnerable groups.

The study was conducted by Professor Friederike Mengel from our Department of Economics.  Professor Veronika Grimm from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and Professor Martin Schmidt from Trier University.

Speaking of the team’s findings, Professor Mengel said: ”Using the model, we were able to calculate how different combinations of measures would affect the number of deaths, the stress on the health system and the amount of immunity in the population.

“We found that a strict lockdown would result in significantly lower deaths but, in a case study, we found that even after 500 days of economic standstill, 92% of the population would lack immunity and the risk of infection would remain high.

“We need to protect people’s health but we also need to find ways of boosting social and economic life again.

“The drive therefore was to search for a combination of measures that would be reliable, ensure protection of the health service and allow more social and economic activity.

“We are not claiming to have found the perfect lockdown exit strategy but what we’ve found should form a reliable foundation for the necessary decision-making.

“Our new model not only allows for studying different public health interventions, it’s also flexible enough to account for different risk factors as well as behavioural patterns across different parts of a population.”

Read the research at