Is There Light at the End of the Covid Tunnel?
Posted on November 3, 2020
With lockdown coming again, people are wondering where this coronavirus crisis is going to end up. Infection and death rates are rising again, and the government are panicking over an NHS crisis that will become a political one.
Understanding solutions is hard because there are many conflicting theories. However, what is now clear is the only way to ever get normality restored, is by testing, lockdown, or vaccine. We were told that testing was the game changer but the only thing world beating about it, is its spectacular failure.
Lockdown works but it wrecks the economy, and it must be said that the next lockdown with schools and colleges remaining open, might not work. Children are super spreaders and whilst they are not unduly affected by the virus, they have tutors and parents who are.
If those parents and teachers are in touch with other key workers and people who have to go to work, the virus will (I would have thought) continue to find humans to jump around. The only lockdown that will guarantee the virus will run out of contacts, is an authoritarian one, featuring isolation and food being ordered by delivery only.
Test & Isolate
So, what about testing and isolation? Well, for all the money spent, Serco Test & Trace is not getting the contact and isolate results needed. It is now argued that centralising Test & Trace was a waste of time and it should have been funded locally.
This would mean local authorities receiving funding to Test & Isolate via what is known as ‘communicable disease outbreak management’. Essentially what would happen is your local authority would oversee your area. People will say local authorities are not efficient enough, but they can’t be worse than Serco and they also have the advantage of local knowledge and potential hotspots.
There is also a theory that once isolated, it if is a working adult, they are paid to quarantine if positive. So, imagine these two scenarios.
Scenario One: You are self-employed, and you earn say, £1k a week. You get a call from Serco saying that you need to isolate for two weeks as they have been in touch with you and told you to isolate for 14 days. Do you stay off work and lose two grand?
Scenario Two: You get a call from your local council calling you in for a COVID-19 test. If you test positive, you will be asked to isolate for two weeks but you will get paid the average earnings of what you lose.
By nature, I would respond more positively to the local council than I would a dodgy government contractor. I think many others would be the same; particularly if there was no loss of earnings. I reckon by doing that, you could get to the isolation rate required (+80%) whilst those who are negative can crack on.
You can’t get Covid-19 by falling into a river or going out with your dog without enough jumpers on. To survive, it needs humans who have no immunity and at present, there are millions of us. So, unless there is a miracle vaccine, it is lockdown, efficient tracing, or the collapse of the health service.
So far, the government has acted with wishy washy lockdown policies, followed by populist easing measures (half price pub meals etc). Test & Trace was supposed to be the answer. However, whether it was panic, corruption, or both, they gave it to a public sector contractor (Serco) with a chaotic history of ineptitude.
Novel pandemics are an unenviable task for any government but only the most deluded and partisan Tory voters can claim it has been a success. The next month is when it can be turned around and a proper plan can be put in place.
Expect more last-minute firefighting and more cock-ups.