The UK recently announced their strategy to handle the Coronavirus pandemic and it seems to have shocked a lot of people. Their basic message seems to be that they have given up on trying to contain the spread of the virus. The Government instead wants to control the spread and keep it at a level that the NHS can sustain.
The eventual goal is that everyone who has a low fatality risk should get infected so we develop herd immunity, since this virus will be with us for the foreseeable future. Containing the virus can only be temporary; and it would be bad it we contained the virus for a few months only to have a new outbreak in the coming winter, when the NHS is usually under a heavier load.
The messaging feels blunt but this part of the strategy doesn't seem to be very different from what the rest of Europe is trying to do; although the other countries seem more hesitant to admit that containment isn't possible any more. There also seems to be the assumption that the impressive containment of the virus due to aggressive testing and social distancing in Wuhan, South Korea, and Taiwan won't be effective in the long term.
What's really controversial is the decision to not shut schools, large events, or adopt aggressive social distancing measures at this time. This is a radically different path from the rest of Europe. Ireland and Denmark introduced lock-downs days ago that will shut down schools, universities, and large events throughout the country.
The strategy is definitely bold. If the Government's decisions turn out to be the right ones, we'll have to applaud them for taking such a daring path during a chaotic time and sticking to it in the face of mounting public pressure.
Personally I'm cautiously optimistic about the Government's plan. They are probably right that lock-downs cannot be sustained indefinitely without adopting draconian measures, and also that eventually we will all have to be exposed to the virus.
The video of the press conference is here. This tweetstorm summarises the Government's position and some of the risks involved.