Among the dwindling band of enthusiasts for the idea of deliberately allowing 60%+ of the population to be infected in the hope of producing 'herd immunity', there's a debating trick of framing the choice as being a straight one between letting the virus rip, and a lockdown of a year or eighteen months' duration that would wreck the economy. Curiously, they seem to believe that presenting the choice in this way will guarantee that any 'reasonable' person would always choose a biblical death toll over economic damage. They're completely wrong about that, but luckily it's a false choice anyway. South Korea demonstrate on a daily basis that the epidemic can be tightly controlled, and new cases can be kept persistently low, through a blend of mass testing, fast contact tracing, and social distancing measures that fall short of full lockdown.
Germany have just drawn up a plan to do something similar, and crucially, the respected Robert Koch Institute believe that it will ensure that the average number of people infected by 1 person will be lower than 1. For as long as that figure remains below 1, the epidemic will always be in retreat rather than growing, although obviously how significant and/or rapid the retreat is depends on how far below 1 the number is.
The measures being suggested are:
1) Most importantly, mass testing and fast contact tracing, with the aim of tracing 80% of a person's close contacts within 24 hours of them testing positive.
2) Continued stringent social distancing measures, with the bans on large public gatherings and private parties remaining in place.
3) Compulsory use of face-masks in public buildings and in buses and trains.
4) Some schools might re-open but only in low-intensity areas.
The implication is that all of this would carry on until a vaccine is ready, possibly next year.
Clearly none of this describes a full return to normal life, but neither is it a blueprint for economic Armageddon. Despite what the herd immunity zealots would have us believe, there is a way of both protecting the economy AND controlling the spread of the virus, but we must have a credible, fully-fledged plan such as the German one in place before we even think about lifting the lockdown in this country. It would be totally irresponsible to relax the current rules until there is an alternative suppression strategy in place. It would also be irresponsible to do it before lockdown has succeeded in bringing the numbers down to a low enough level to actually make an alternative suppression strategy viable, and according to Professor Neil Ferguson that won't happen until late May or June.
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Given his track record of extreme views, a lot of people will be deeply concerned about Dominic Raab's status as Johnson's designated deputy. If it gets to the point where he's trying to make big strategic decisions that will determine whether hundreds of thousands of people live or die, there's going to be a huge question mark over his democratic authority given that neither the public nor the Conservative party have elected him. The obvious way of conferring legitimacy on a stand-in PM would be to form a temporary government of national unity.