Thursday, April 16, 2020


The two main epidemiological models available to the UK government suggest that fairly draconian restrictions will need to remain in place for at least six months. For a variety of different reasons, the governments of the larger economic blocs of the West are starting to push back against the medical advice.

Even Italy, which had defined the exit strategy as 30 days after the last new infection wants, or needs, a speedier alternative.

There is potentially a way to do this safely, and it involves testing. (One reason why Guatemala currently has little alternative to the mainstream Plan A.) Yet even the big guys are not really ready with this, so stand by for the gap to be filled with half a dozen or so specious arguments...

Specious Argument #1

Lockdowns were not such a great idea in the first place. 

This one is more likely to crop up on the libertarian fringes of the media than in elected assemblies, as politicians tend to become wedded to their strategies. 

One for the historians too perhaps, but they’ll tell you in advance that the problem is not mass quarantine per se, but rather that this measure has always worked better in certain kinds of state than others. 

Specious Argument #2

How many of these people were going to die anyway? Not really a question you'd want to be seen asking when 4/5 of the population has become infected, but one you can just about get away with right now. 

Specious Argument #3

I blame...(insert institution of choice, e.g. the WHO). All the competent authorities appear to have acted with at least a modicum of incompetence, both national and international. More political capital to be gained however from blaming the foreign bodies - specific failings, but also bigger picture stuff that’s handy to export like ‘why didn't they have a better plan to hand than economic suicide?’

Specious Argument #4

There is also death in involved in staying indoors. You know, depression, suicide, drug abuse, violence against women and so on. Poverty is also unhealthy, say the same people loudly touting a quick, V-shaped recovery. (Definitely exercise caution with those who say we can afford it and then that we cannot, in almost the same breath.) 

This as yet un-modelled non-coronavirus-related mortality will however need to be offset, not so much against the pandemic, as against all the non-coronavirus-related not-deaths simultaneously occurring: empty accident and emergency wards, the lowest levels of traffic accidents since 1910 in the UK, not to mention the reduction in mass shootings in the US. 

Specious Argument #5

We need to reopen half the country in order to guarantee food supplies to the other half. Trump has been trying this one for size. It certainly works better in the US than elsewhere.

Specious Argument #6

This is all so intolerable. Fuckit. 

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