Herd Immunity and Flattening the Curve
The Issue: As COVID-19 sweeps from Asia across Europe and into the Americas, a variety of approaches are being used from country. The majority of countries have undergone lock downs, which involves cancelling large events, closing schools, and in the most extreme cases, the majority of businesses. While America and the majority of Europe follow this model first used by the Chinese, the UK has taken a completely different approach to the pandemic. The idea is that public places should remain open so that the majority of people, mainly young people, will get the virus and become immunized.
The Argument: Proponents of lock down measures say that this will protect the most amount of people by keeping the healthcare system intact. Their main argument is that the goal is to slow the rate of infection so that the health care systems aren't overwhelmed. This is called flattening the curve.
The opponents argue that once the rate of infection slows down and people start to gather and work as normal again, the infection rate will increase again, and society might have to undergo multiple waves of lock down to stave of the worst affects of the virus, at huge economic costs.
The Take: While the data is limited, the lock down approach seems to have been reasonably effective in many Asian countries that have already gone through the worst of the virus. New reported cases in China have dropped sharply, and China recently closed one of the corona virus hospitals. While there will certainly be economic costs for the countries that take this approach, it avoids the humanitarian crisis experienced in many Chinese hospitals of sick people crammed into tiny rooms full of corpses. Most hospital systems around the world are running near full capacity, so slowing the rate of infection to a manageable level for the health system should be the top priority. This is especially relevant in the UK, due to the reputation of the NHS (National Health Service) of being understaffed, overcrowded, and underfunded as part of the major cuts to the health system under an austerity-minded conservative government. If they UK continues the approach of herd immunity by allowing mass amounts of people to get infected, the NHS could be looking at collapse. Lock downs are necessary to prevent this crisis from growing worse than it needs to be.