The UK’s Approach To COVID — 19 Is Unique
Time Will Show If It Works — Or If It Will Even Be Implemented
The COVID — 19 outbreak and spread prompted countries to take increasingly aggressive steps in order to prevent further spread and deaths. Countries introduced increasingly aggressive lockdowns and quarantines. Taking their cue from China and Italy, where the spread of the virus was exponential and still growing (in Italy) even with the quarantines in place. Although the quarantine slowed the spread of the virus, the economic consequences were drastic. The volatility in the global stock indices increased with repeated falls and raises (due to quantitative easing and interest rate cuts). Economically, the fears of a slump in demand leading to increasing unemployment is high. In order to combat this, governments around the world are promising policies to ensure that the panic does not spread. As of today (March 17th) the United States for example, is looking into policy options that would directly transfer money into individuals account in order to boost demand.
The United Kingdom is unique in its approach to prevent the spread of the virus and to keep demand stable. Instead of quarantining whole areas, they have announced that individuals over 70 should self quarantine for four months. The rest of the population is encouraged to go about their day as usual. School have also remained open. The point of this policy is to allow heard immunity to spread. Since the fatality rate for the older population is high but for is low for the younger population, the government hopes that although the virus will spread so will the natural immunity. As Oxford dictionary defines it, herd immunity is:
The resistance to the spread of a contagious disease within a population that results if a sufficiently high proportion of individuals are immune to the disease, especially through vaccination.
“The sufficiently high proportion..” in this context was 60% of the UK population. One this policy was launched, it received mixed response both within the UK and from international bodies such as the WHO (World Health Organization). Then the London Imperial College (later confirmed by other organizations) released a report stating that simply doing this will risk around a quarter of a million lives. This then prompted other policy makes to scrutinise the government.
As of now, some aspects of this policy is being rolled back. However, the world is now faced with a number of options all of which will lead to some sacrifice and struggle. It will be upon the governments and individuals to decide the best of all alternatives. We may fully beat COVID — 19, but that might mean a recession that will lead to a lot of job loss and further pain.