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How do we think about the UK lockdown debate? Show more Show less
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The coronavirus pandemic has led to unprecedented isolation measures throughout the world. One effect has been the creation of ideological blocs across traditional party lines, lobbying for different approaches to containing the virus. UK lockdown came into effect on March 23, shutting down non-essential business and movement outside the home, bar a single daily outing for exercise. Critics variously describe this decision as too late, too little, too much and overblown. So, who are these groups, what do they stand for, and why?

The libertarian position, or 'End lockdown now!' Show more Show less

At the heart of this approach is the belief that lockdown is a violation of fundamental human rights. Its proponents range from the UK alt right, to high court judges, to commentators seeing the closure of British drinking holes as a bleak symbol of authoritarian rule.
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Most people have already had the virus

According to Oxford epidemiologists Sunetra Gupta, 68% of the UK population have already been infected with the virus and are therefore immune. In this case, the lockdown is doing unnecessary harm to our economy and our lives.
covid health lockdown politics

The Argument

In a paper published by Sunetra Gupta, a professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford University, she and her colleagues argue that, based on their model, 68% of people were infected with Covid-19 by mid-March.[1] She also argued, in an interview with The Guardian, that locking down the economy and enacting a mandatory stay-at-home policy is a drastic solution to a problem that does not exist, saying that the cost of a lockdown is far greater than the cost of the virus.[2] Her model suggests that if the virus was present in Britain a month earlier than thought—December rather than January—then cases would skyrocket, but the fatality rate would be a fraction of the 1% it's thought to be. This is the case because of herd immunity, the idea that if a large swath of a population is infected with the disease and then recovers, the likelihood of future infection or death is minimal. Gupta argues for an increase in antibody testing—a test to see whether healthy people have the antibodies to fight off Covid-19, or to show they've been previously infected—is needed to prove her theory, and that she believes current antibody data is inaccurate and outdated. A separate study published by researchers at the University of Manchester argues that by the second week of April, almost 27% of the UK population—16 million people—had already had Covid-19.[3] While the virus is dangerous and wreaked havoc on a predominantly older population, the peak has passed. A one-size-fits-all solution to a lockdown does more harm than good.

Counter arguments

A new study found cases of patients catching Covid-19 twice, so ending the lockdown solely based off of the likelihood that most UK residents have had Covid could result in even more infections.[4] Also, the genetic makeup of Covid-19 is changing, possibly causing the virus to become more contagious.[5] Scientists have not yet figured out if the virus has changed enough to make a second infection more likely, but it's certainly a possibility.

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.24.20042291v1
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/05/the-costs-are-too-high-the-scientist-who-wants-lockdown-lifted-faster-sunetra-gupta
  3. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/ijcp.13528
  4. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/08/some-people-can-get-pandemic-virus-twice-study-suggests-no-reason-panic
  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Djy3WNLz_mM&ab_channel=Vox

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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 16 Sep 2020 at 19:45 UTC

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