The coronavirus lockdown is saving lives but destroying livelihoods. Is it worth it? I’ve been accused of ignoring its costs. For an economist, this is fighting talk. Love us or hate us, thinking about uncomfortable trade-offs is what we economists do.

Three points should be obvious. First, we need an exit strategy from the lockdowns, a better strategy than US President Donald Trump’s — “one day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear”. Expanding emergency capacity, discovering better treatments, testing for infection and testing for antibodies could all be part of the solution, along with a vaccine in the longer term.

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