This particular article in the Spectator (which we still haven’t managed to restore to the sidebar) best reflects my own view of the current situation, which is that no-one can yet tell whether Lockdown is the most or the least effective strategy for dealing with the pandemic. The best or the worst. The wisest or the stupidest. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again - the jury’s still out.
We cannot yet know whether the economic fallout from Lockdown will turn out to be a bigger calamity than the imminent prospect of a few million more premature deaths from Covid, and no amount of logic and reasoning can provide a definitive answer till the fat lady sings; and not even then. In the absence of a reliable, robust, retrospective tally, our polarised attitudes and prescriptions can only be ’visceral’, instinctive and speculative, and I daresay, dependent, at least in part, upon whether we’ve got vulnerable and very precious loved-ones to worry about.
It seems to me that in a no-win scenario like this, any strategy is risky; but since we voted for the present government, and Lockdown is the strategy they’re betting the farm on, it’s wiser to cooperate than to dissent, because the chosen strategy is heavily dependent on our cooperation.
If Brendan O’Neill thinks it’s the wrong strategy and Peter Hitchens says dissent is our moral duty, it’s not so much that I disagree with their arguments - they may well be right - but at the moment it’s extremely premature to be certain of anything, and in my opinion, it’s unwise to insist you can be.
No outcome I can think of is likely to give us a definitive answer anytimesoon. Perhaps if the pandemic rapidly dies out and the economy bounces back double-tout-suite, we can pretend we knew it all along. Not very likely though, is it? Even with the benefit of hindsight, we’ll probably still be left with a bunch of ‘what ifs’ that we can argue over forever and a day.
I just think this piece by Professor Michael Baum details the uncertainties that make me quite sure that we can’t be sure. There’s even a reference to TV journalists in there, so no-one can accuse me of going completely off-topic.
“We now have a rich and varied amount of data on coronavirus that is global and increasing by the day. As you would expect, in the face of uncertainty, opinions in the scientific community are diverse. Now is not the time for point-scoring and facile comparisons, but for global collaboration.
Ultimately this lockdown period will come to an end, we will develop herd immunity, produce antibody tests that work and vaccines to protect the vulnerable. We will win against this virus and our children will ask, ‘What did you do in the great corona war of 2020?’.
The best answers will come from those currently caring for the sick or who work in our science and mathematical laboratories. But if you are a whinging TV journalist demanding, ‘Something must be done’, or an armchair epidemiologist who has no doubt that ‘rhubarb’ is the answer to our problems, you may have to keep quiet and change the subject.
Please disagree in an orderly fashion. It’s our blog and we. can. exterminate.