Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Lockdown junkies

I've written for the Telegraph about the knee-jerk demands for another lockdown...

I have no doubt that quarantining the entire population is an effective way of reducing the number of infections. Amputating your leg is an effective way of getting rid of a verruca. The question is whether a second national lockdown (sorry, circuit breaker) is a proportionate and necessary response that will do more good than harm. Lockdowns have never been a feature of the NHS’s pandemic response plans, and were never seriously considered until the Wuhan police started welding people’s doors shut. 

Remember when lockdown was a last resort to prevent hospitals being overrun? Protecting the NHS was the only reason given when Boris Johnson appeared on television on March 23. Most of us signed up to that. Since then, we have vastly increased our testing capacity, hired 25,000 contact tracers, banned gatherings of more than six people, built the Nightingale hospitals, discovered effective treatments, made masks mandatory, closed bars and restaurants at 10pm and introduced local lockdowns. Social distancing is now ingrained in our way of life and working from home has been normalised. 

This is what living with an endemic virus means. We always knew there would be a resurgence as winter approached, but the measures we’ve taken are slowing the spread appreciably. On March 20, there were 1,500 people in hospital with Covid-19. Nineteen days later there were nearly 20,000. On September 24, the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 reached 1,500 again. Nineteen days later (yesterday), there were 4,367. In the whole south of England, including London, there were only 681.


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