"We should set some ground rules too. First, we deploy only evidence-based interventions, unlike the rule-of-six in England which unnecessarily applies to children, who play a minor role in transmission, and outdoor activities, which are very low risk. Second, we have a clear plan for using the time we have bought; for instance, to build testing capacity. Third, we agree on a long term strategy that does not involve a crippling on-off cycle of circuit breakers until whenever we might get a vaccine. We must not allow the cure to become worse than the disease.
That long term strategy has to be a risk-based approach to living with Covid-19. This is a very unpleasant virus but, for the great majority of people, not nearly so unpleasant that we should contemplate shutting down society to deal with it. We can help individuals assess the risk to themselves and the people around them, enable everyone to mitigate those risks while ensuring that the most vulnerable are protected, and thereby minimise the need for government-led interventions. Would that work? It seems to be working in Sweden."
Prof Mark Woolhouse is Chair of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh. He is a member of the UK SPI-M advisory group and of Scotland's Covid-19 Advisory Group. He is writing in a personal capacity.
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