Interesting explanation about the govt's strategy for COVID19 https://twitter.com/iandonald_psych
The govt strategy on #Coronavirus is more refined than those used in
other countries and potentially very effective. But it is also riskier
and based on a number of assumptions. They need to be correct, and the
measures they introduce need to work when they are supposed to.
A UK starting assumption is that a high number of the population will
inevitably get infected whatever is done – up to 80%. As you can’t
stop it, so it is best to manage it. There are limited health
resources so the aim is to manage the flow of the seriously ill to
The Italian model the aims to stop infection. The UKs wants infection
BUT of particular categories of people. The aim of the UK is to have
as many lower risk people infected as possible. Immune people cannot
infect others; the more there are the lower the risk of infection.
That's herd immunity.
Based on this idea, at the moment the govt wants people to get
infected, up until hospitals begin to reach capacity. At that they
want to reduce, but not stop infection rate. Ideally they balance it
so the numbers entering hospital = the number leaving. That balance is
the big risk.
All the time people are being treated, other mildly ill people are
recovering and the population grows a higher percent of immune people
who can’t infect. They can also return to work and keep things going
normally - and go to the pubs. The risk is being able to accurately
manage infection flow relative to health case resources. Data on
infection rates needs to be accurate, the measures they introduce need
to work and at the time they want them to and to the degree they want,
or the system is overwhelmed.
Schools: Kids generally won’t get very ill, so the govt can use them
as a tool to infect others when you want to increase infection. When
you need to slow infection, that tap can be turned off – at that point
they close the schools. Politically risky for them to say this.
The same for large scale events - stop them when you want to slow
infection rates; turn another tap off. This means schools etc are
closed for a shorter period and disruption generally is therefore for
a shorter period, AND with a growing immune population. This is
After a while most of the population is immune, the seriously ill have
all received treatment and the country is resistant. The more
vulnerable are then less at risk. This is the end state the govt is
aiming for and could achieve. BUT a key issue during this process is
protection of those for whom the virus is fatal. It's not clear the
full measures there are to protect those people. It assumes they can
measure infection, that their behavioural expectations are met -
people do what they think they will
The Italian (and others) strategy is to stop as much infection as
possible - or all infection. This is appealing, but then what? The
restrictions are not sustainable for months. So they will need to be
relaxed. But that will lead to re-emergence of infections
Then rates will then start to climb again. So they will have to
reintroduce the restrictions each time infection rates rise. That is
not a sustainable model and takes much longer to achieve the goal of a
largely immune population with low risk of infection of the vulnerable
As the government tries to achieve equilibrium between
hospitalisations and infections, more interventions will appear. It's
perhaps why there are at the moment few public information films on
staying at home. They are treading a tight path, but possibly a
Let's hope it works or we're doomed. But no travelling yet please.