Action needed

How should we respond to the covid-19 epidemic?

To minimise the impact on lives and health, and to minimise the economic effects, we need
  • the best science
  • the best political processes.

The best science

Scientific methods have been developed to give the correct answers to questions that we feel have correct answers.

We can justify the methods of science on the basis that
  • they give consistent answers and accurate predictions
  • alternatives do not.

Science depends on
  • sharing all the evidence
  • synthesizing the evidence
  • agreeing a consensus on what it means

The best political processes

Democracy is the system of government that we would choose if given the choice.

We need decisions by politicians to be what is best for the citizens, not what is best for the politicians or their financial backers.

Standards for public life in the UK have been set by the Committee on Standards in Public Life - see here.

There should be a clear plan of action. According to the available evidence, this should be local elimination (with outbreaks from travellers dealt with as they occur); this is based on
  • the success of elimination policies elsewhere e.g. in China, New Zealand and Iceland
  • the similarities with Ebola outbreaks.


Elimination successes
The chart shows two examples of local eradication: New Zealand and Iceland. Recent cases are felt to be traveller-related.


In China, according to figures from the Johns Hopkins database [1] (viewed 2 Jul 2020), some regions have had spikes (currently Beijing), but most have been free of covid-19 for weeks.

Notes on Ebola
Ebola is not endemic in mankind, but jumps from animals (its usual host) to man and causes outbreaks from time to time.

The number of long term infectious human carriers is either very small or zero. Outbreaks have so far always been contained and eradicated.

Political action
We need zero tolerance to departures from good political decision-making.

Marcus Ball has founded "Stop Lying In Politics" a non-partisan, not for profit campaign: https://www.stoplyinginpolitics.org/


References
[1]Johns Hopkins Hospital database of cases https://github.com/CSSEGISandData/COVID-19/blob/master/csse_covid_19_data/csse_covid_19_time_series/time_series_covid19_confirmed_global.csv

First published: 5 Jun 2020
Last updated: 21 Jul 2020