So here we go again. In any crisis there are three types of people. There are those who don’t think there is a crisis. “What’s all the fuss? ” They ask before accusing those wanting action of sinister motives. Then there are those running around shouting, panicking and trying anything and everything. Sadly, the COVID pandemic has been dominated by these two groups. When eventually the crisis subsides, the first group see it as evidence that there was never anything to worry about, the second group pat themselves in the back, they did it. Both groups are unprepared for when the problem comes back.
A third group understands that if you want to solve a problem, you have to understand it. Just as when the water keeps coming, the plumber realises he hasn’t found the source of the leak and when the patient isn’t responding to the drug treatmenrm a doctor re-checks his diagnosis,
We have not solved the COVID pandemic through lockdowns or tiers, partly because we never could. Most of us now live in a country where legally we cannot see people outside of our houses, we cannot go places without a mask, we cannot eat out and we must keep 2 metres distance at all times. We are also meant to track and trace. Yet, the infection rates continue to rise.
To be sure, there is a new variant but unless it transmits faster by being able to burst through masks and travel 3 or 4 metres then it still is dependent on people coming into contact with one another at close quarters without masks.
Unsurprisingly, a lot of that has been happening in December. We have had people congregating on mass in shopping centres for the Christmas rush and there are plenty of reports of illegal parties. Despite the revised rules, many of us know people who had visitors stay over for several days having travelled out of the south east at Christmas.
Meanwhile we still had secondary school age children in year group bubbles, too large and too porus to be meaningful sitting side by side without masks in class and walking home together mixing between year groups afterwards. Being under 16, they also coild not legally participate in track and trace on their phones,
Consistently through the year we have seen super spreader events and neighbourhood clusters. Yet it seems that noone with any clout, not politicians, not journalists, not even the scientific community have stopped to ask what is happening and why. They just press on imposing stricter rules on those who have already kept the rules and kept CoVID free.
It is time to stop and ask why. You see, either keeping to 2 metres and wearing a maks works or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t we have been wasting our time. If it does then the problem isn’t with the measures as they exist. My hypothesis is that we will see waves rise and fall. We could fully expect a new wave to follow the last lockdown and we are probably hitting the peak of that noThe risk is that the present wave will subside as the new lockdowns kick in but in fact will have nothing to do with the lockdowns and we will fail to learn lessons again.
There is a small blessing in that the vaccine is being rolled out. However we may be missing the opportunity to learn the right lessons for future pandemics and to deal with this wave more effectively.Meanwhile the lockdown wont be cost free. It will hit finances, social life and emotional health and at this time of year and at this stage in the crisis, the effect will be even worse than with the first wave.
If my hypothesis about what is happening is right then rather than a national lockdown and rather than hitting responsible shops, cinemas, cafes and churches hard then there is a better way forward.
- Prioritise teachers and students for the vaccine enabling schools to remain open and to cut out one potential source of transmission.
- Identify neighbourhoods and contexts where transmission is high. Seek to understand what behaviours are happening in those areas and how those behaviours affect transmission. Work with communities to amend behaviours.
- Identify those people who wilfully defy regulations e,g by organising super spreader events. They should be subject to criminal charges based on their actions and the effect just as a reckless driver would
We need to do better. We need to think clearer. We need to stop the fire fighting and actually start problem solving,