(Richard Pohle/Pool via AP)

By Sam

Commenting on a moronic Herald piece by Guy Stenhouse, John observed:”It’s quite clear that in the first few weeks the UK Government’s strategy was herd-immunity and “taking it on the chin”. What is the strategy now?

There is informed speculation here.  https://99-percent.org/what-is-the-governments-coronavirus-strategy/

Take a look at the available strategies?

 “The four generic strategies are:the laissez-faire strategy – let the virus take its course without interrupting normal economic activity in the hope of building herd immunity quickly and doing minimum damage to the economy;the isolate the vulnerable strategy – as above but find a way to protect those most at risk: the elderly, BAME, economically disadvantaged and those with underlying conditions;the retard the progress of the virus strategy – pursue the herd immunity strategy, but slowly so as to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed;the lockdown and eliminate strategy – maintain a tight lockdown to reduce cases to a number where other means of elimination (most likely Test, Trace and Supported Isolation) become feasible.The UK government has never explicitly stated which of these strategies it is following: even at the point of lockdown, it was not clear whether the strategy was lockdown and eliminate or lockdown in order to retard. And therefore it is hard to know for sure whether they have been following the best strategy.

In February, Johnson made a speech suggesting that the UK would take on the virus, “as the supercharged champion, of the right of the populations of the earth to buy and sell freely among each other.”  That looks like laissez-faire.

According to the Independent, the SAGE group told the UK government of the risks of laissez-faire: “Professor Medley also confirmed reports that the government was told in late February – long before the Imperial College study – that half a million people could die in the UK without a lockdown.”
Then, later in the month as The Independent reports:“Boris Johnson told Italy’s president he was aiming for herd immunity to defeat coronavirus, an explosive TV documentary has revealed, despite No 10 denying that was ever the policy. The Italian health minister has undermined the government’s repeated denials by recounting a conversation between the two leaders on 13 March, as the pandemic neared its peak.

‘I spoke with [Giuseppe] Conte to tell President Conte that I’d tested positive [for coronavirus].’ Pierpaolo Sileri told Channel 4’s Dispatches. ‘And he told me that he’d spoken with Boris Johnson and that they’d also talked about the situation in Italy. I remember he said, ‘He told me that he wants herd immunity’.”

When, mid March, Imperial College published its modelling to show the large number of deaths that would follow a policy of laissez-faire it was politically impossible to follow this course. A week later the lock down was introduced. It was during this time that Whitty and Vallance were emphasising the need to time changes well and miscalculating badly the speed with which the virus would sweep through the UK.

Since then the lock down has been effective at the cost of the economy. This has led some elements of the media and the Conservative party to say that it is time to lift the lock down.

“Some claimed that the government’s messaging on lockdown had been too effective and had caused too great a curtailment of economic activity. So just before VE day, Government sources let it be known that a relaxation was coming. And it duly came with the clear messaging about staying at home replaced by ambiguous messages about alertness and common sense, and with many of the restrictions now accompanied by phrases like “where possible.”

And on 1 June, in the wake of the public controversy over Dominic Cummings’s breach of the lockdown rules, the first stage of unlock was announced.”

What the government might be doing now is adopting a strategy of trying to keep the levels of infection at a level that will not overwhelm the NHS. It might be reverting, without telling us, to the herd immunity strategy. What it does not seem to be doing is trying to eradicate the virus. That may be the aim of the Scottish government and the governments of Wales and N Ireland. The UK government has moved from a policy of laissez-faire that would have killed many to lockdown and now, perhaps, to retarding the progress of the virus through England. and herd immunity There has been no settled strategy to covid19 by the UK government. (The return of some of the schools in England has been cancelled.) The UK government may well be back to herd immunity. If so, the rest of the UK has cause to worry.