Strategy for COVID-19: Maximum Suppression or Mere Containment?
We welcome the following features of the UK Government’s Roadmap for England for Spring 2021: (a) Measures introduced in 5-week phases, with time gaps built-in for data-informed reviews against four tests (relating to vaccination rollout and efficacy – and viral spread and mutation). (b) Prioritising school opening and then outdoor activity, the latter being associated with at least 20x less risk than indoor activity.
However, there are clear deficits in the approach, which endanger its overall ambition of ensuring that the route out of lockdown is ‘one-way’ and irreversible. These include:
- The absence of an overall strategy for pandemic control over and above vaccination
- Opening of schools and colleges on a single date (March 8th) without sufficient mitigating or compensatory measures
- Insufficient focus on addressing inequality, thus risking turning COVID into a disease of the poor.
This paper addresses these three areas with links to Independent SAGE’s previous report, which sets out recommendations for a sustainable suppression strategy for keeping society open.