Lockdown measures and relative changes in the age-specific incidence of SARS-CoV-2 in Spain

Epidemiol Infect. 2020 Oct 21:148:e268. doi: 10.1017/S0950268820002551.


During the first months of the severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) epidemic in 2020, Spain implemented an initial lockdown period on 15 March followed by a strengthened lockdown period on 30 March when only essential workers continued to commute to work. However, little is known about the epidemic dynamics in different age groups during these periods.We used the daily number of coronavirus 2019 cases (by date of symptom onset) reported to the National Epidemiological Surveillance Network among individuals aged 15-19 years through 65-69 years. For each age group g, we computed the proportion PrE(g) of individuals in age group g among all reported cases aged 15-69 years during the pre-lockdown period (1-10 March 2020) and the corresponding proportion PrL(g) during two lockdown periods (initial: 25 March-3 April; strengthened: 8-17 April 2020). For each lockdown period, we computed the proportion ratios PR(g) = PrL(g)/PrE(g). For each pair of age groups g1, g2, PR(g1)>PR(g2) implies a relative increase in the incidence of detected SARS-CoV-2 infection in the age group g1 compared with g2 for the lockdown period vs. the pre-lockdown period.For the initial lockdown period, the highest PR values were in age groups 50-54 years (PR = 1.21; 95% CI: 1.12,1.30) and 55-59 years (PR = 1.19; 1.11,1.27). For the second lockdown period, the highest PR values were in age groups 15-19 years (PR = 1.26; 0.95,1.68) and 50-54 years (PR = 1.20; 1.09,1.31).Our results suggest that different outbreak control measures led to different changes in the relative incidence by age group. During the initial lockdown period, when non-essential work was allowed, individuals aged 40-64 years, particularly those aged 50-59 years, had a higher relative incidence compared with the pre-lockdown period. Younger adults/older adolescents had an increased relative incidence during the later, strengthened lockdown. The role of different age groups during the epidemic should be considered when implementing future mitigation efforts.

Keywords: Age groups; SARS-CoV-2; Spain; lockdown.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Quarantine
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Social Isolation
  • Spain / epidemiology
  • Young Adult