The new Covid strain and its policy implications

Here is one account, please note this investigation is in its early days:

“An increase in R of 0.4 or greater is extremely bad news. During the national lockdown in November the best we could achieve was an R value of somewhere between 0.8 and 1.0 around the UK,” said Prof Hunter. “What this means is that even if we went back to the lockdown it would still not be enough to bring the R value down to less than 1.0.”

Note also it is very likely the new mutation already has spread well beyond the UK.  And with compounding, an R increase of 0.4 is really bad as time passes.

If this all is true, what are the policy implications?  First, a lockdown with no pending vaccine will only postpone problems, a’ la the herd immunity theorists.

Second, we do have vaccines and so in any plausible model faster viral spread implies a faster timetable for vaccine approval and distribution.  And it implies we should have been faster to begin with.

If you used to say “we were just slow enough,” you now have to revise that opinion and believe that greater speed is called for, both prospectively and looking backwards.

In any plausible model.

If Godzilla is faster than you had thought, you need to start running away sooner.  And you needed to have started running away sooner.  In any plausible model.

In any plausible model.

Yet somehow I do not expect the rooftops to be so crowded over the next few days.


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