This tweet of mine seemed to particularly anger Iain -
"Herd immunity was a trade off. It did accept a number of deaths and severe illnesses as a price worth paying for getting back to normal more quickly. The only thing that has changed is that the numbers involved were far greater than the govt realised."
Iain replied that there was never any "callous calculation" in the herd immunity strategy that would have led to people dying needlessly. He claimed it was "disgraceful scaremongering" to suggest otherwise. But I'm afraid it's simply a fact that belatedly accepting that a suppression strategy is viable constitutes a tacit acknowledgement that the infections, illnesses and deaths associated with the herd immunity strategy had never actually been unavoidable. Until a few days ago it was being pretended (not least in Jason Leitch's grand tour of the TV studios and in Iain's own Sunday column) that they somehow were unavoidable.
It's worth taking a look at this video from 11th March by Professor Neil Ferguson, the lead author of the Imperial College paper. He sets out absolutely straightforwardly that the herd immunity (ie. "mitigation") and suppression strategies are binary choices, and that each option has its downside. The downside of suppression is the length of time that social disruption will have to last, and the downside of herd immunity is the avoidable loss of life. The politicians had to decide which was the lesser of the two evils, and until last week the government were plumping for the excess deaths. Iain may or may not believe that was justified based on the known facts at the time, but to claim that the choice never even existed is deeply disingenuous (or delusional).
So what changed? It's quite simple: a few days after he made that video, Professor Ferguson and his colleagues told the government in no uncertain terms that there was essentially no longer any choice at all, and that suppression was now the only game in town. New modelling showed that pursuing herd immunity would have broken the NHS.