Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Lockdowns to contain the Virus

I keep reading people say that "lockdowns" to contain covid-19 don't work.  I'm not sure what they mean.  At least in England, lockdowns are a reactive policy.  The number of infected and R number goes up and up, and so, in a panic, the Government imposes a lockdown to stop the increase, which it does, but then when the lockdown ends the numbers obviously increase again.  So, effectively, lockdowns are a policy of desperation.  They do work as in keeping the numbers in check, but of course, they don't get rid of the virus!  

The Government needed and needs to apply pro-active policies, and should have done so from the off back last January.  I suggested at that time the banning of all international flights (see a blog post of mine here). Certainly, something should have been done.  Perhaps the isolation for 2 weeks of all arrivals to the UK and which was strictly enforced, including those coming back from holiday.  If not implemented in January, then February or, at the very latest, early March.  Moreover, the Government have continued to make the wrong decisions throughout.  For example, back in September, why on earth were schools allowed to be re-opened and students told to go back to University?  Of course, the numbers of infected were low then -- 1 in every 900 people in the UK compared to 1 in 50 now -- but that was the very time to drive the numbers and the R rate even lower.  Not allow the R number and the number of infected people to rise again!  It was a deeply foolish policy.

New Zealand  implemented the correct policies from the off and life is pretty much normal there now and has been for months with a mere 25 people having died from the virus (see this article).  Contrast that to the U.K where around 75,000 are dead and counting, approximately 1 person in every 50 people is infected, and we're currently in our 3rd lockdown with no end in sight.

So, I really just don't get it.  The Government has scientific advisors, so they will have been aware of the dangers of the virus.  Of course, there would have been a lot of opposition to implementing the correct policies.  But objections such as the negative economic impact were always ludicrous given that those who are asymptomatic can spread the virus.  Hence a global pandemic was always on the cards.  As I said on Facebook back on the 31st January 2020: "The one worrying thing [about this virus] is the claim that people can pass it on when displaying no symptoms themselves".

Then there is the somewhat silly objection of border controls, forced quarantine etc impacting on our freedoms.  The problem here is that freedom to do what we want shouldn't be universal.  In particular, freedoms need to be curtailed where they impact on other peoples' freedoms (have any of these people read John Stuart Mill's On Liberty?  I surmise not!).  It was surely better for New Zealand to encroach upon "freedoms" and implement the policies they did, so that New Zealanders now enjoy normal lives free of the fear of getting the virus, then simply to have done nothing and allow the virus to spread throughout the population with all the negative consequences this entails.

So, why on earth was absolutely nothing done in the UK?  Yes yes yes, I'm aware that Governments have to pander to the electorate and avoid, as much as possible, unpopular policies. Slip and slither, slide around every issue to make sure the voters keep on voting them back into office. But this often results in very bad decisions that are highly detrimental to society as a whole.  In the case of the virus, the death of many thousands of people and hundreds of billions of pounds!

The whole problem with democracy and why it's such a bad system of Government is that leaders are incentivised to make bad decisions because the general populace have only a very superficial understanding of political issues and vote due to crude sentiments or a misplaced notion of the party that will most benefit them.

We need leaders who paradoxically do not want to be leaders, who do not crave the power.  Who are rational, think in the long term, who are above all pro-active.  Plato had the best idea.

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