Coronavirus: A Shot Across the Bow

Updated: Jul 3

It has been almost a week since Coronavirus was declared a pandemic. What have we learnt and what should we do?

Coronavirus has infected over 180,000 people worldwide in more than 100 countries – officially a pandemic. Though, luckily, the death rate is relatively low, sitting at around 2%-3.4%, depending on the sources.

Moreover, the disease is somewhat easy to combat in young people – mainly affecting the elderly. Though, it is important that I don’t come across to downplay the severity of this illness.

What can be drawn from this, is that the world community & individual states are incapable of effectively combatting pandemics. We find ourselves in a worrisome tailspin, and with cases set to increase exponentially over the coming weeks, it shows little sign of stopping.

Since the declaration of pandemic status, we in the UK have seen mass panic buying of toilet paper and food items – often in excess. Moreover, there has been a worrying absence of strong leadership from the government of the country.

The message from the top has been one of herd immunity. That is, allow the masses to contract the disease so that they become immunised. This strategy is explained in full here.

Needless to say, this approach is incredibly risky. For a start, it effectively relies on a 1:1 ratio of hospital admissions to closed cases. If the ratio fluctuates too far in one direction, it puts an unimaginable strain on our NHS – potentially leading to thousands of preventable deaths.

Similarly, it also assumes that the virus won’t mutate beyond the immunisation that the ‘herd’ has built up. It has since been confirmed that it mutates roughly twice-a-month. I’m by no means a virologist, but it’s fairly obvious that should a newly mutated Coronavirus remerge come the summer in a few months, we’re looking at a massive repeat of this current ordeal.

However, should the strategy of herd immunity actually work as planned, the UK will be one of the few countries who have weathered the storm.

The strategy put forth by most of the rest of the world, as outlined here, is to mass quarantine the population. China, Italy and France have all taken steps to do this – naturally, China took the first steps in this process & are now reaping the rewards.

The benefits of this approach are a quick cut-off from the virus. Allow the sick to recover, attempt to keep enough people away from the sick & let the virus die out. Although, all this takes to fail is an extra few people to continue carrying the virus. Once everybody is released back into normality, the virus starts up again.

This is all very speculative, I understand, but that’s part of the issue.

The issue is that there is no real playbook for this sort of situation. We, as a global community, have very little way of coordinating a response. Britain having a completely different response to most of the rest of the world, is ridiculous – the two logical strands are very unlikely to work together.

Once the world has brushed itself down & moved beyond Coronavirus, its leaders need to convene and formulate a coherent response plan to pandemics.

In many respects, we’re rather lucky that Coronavirus has the fatality rate that it does. That is to say, pandemics are usually a lot worse than this. It will, in all likelihood be an awful, generation-defining moment for many of us, but it won’t be the end of the world. With that, we’re going to have to move onwards after this & attempt to improve our response for next time.

That means better availability of testing, better state-to-citizen communication & better cross-border coordination in the response.

We are almost certainly in for a difficult few months ahead. Panic, hysteria and economic crisis are only a heartbeat away. For now, follow the government’s advice and stay inside, unless absolutely necessary.

The Politician will be continuing its news & opinion stories as normal throughout this crisis.

We will endeavour to cover both Coronavirus and our usual content throughout the coming weeks and months. You can read other Coronavirus stories here or by clicking the ‘Coronavirus’ tab under the ‘News’ section.

The Politician Independent Newspaper, created in 2020