While mass hysteria has gripped the world, with the media seemingly keen to create a frenzy, Britain is keeping calm and carrying on, with bars and the like, opera and theatre, still open.
What do Brits know that others don’t, the world is wondering, and what they know is rather simple.
There are only two ways to deal with the current situation. One way is to trace everyone in the entire world who has had this virus and stamp it out. Something that at this stage can’t be done as you can’t even detect asymptomatic people and because it has spread way too much to the point it is a pandemic.
The other way is to have herd immunity, that is for people to go through it and thus become immune so they don’t catch it again and they don’t spread it, lowering the rate of infections.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has criticized this herd immunity approach, saying basically we know nuffin and so implying presumably the Chinese do, but no one can hear the World Health Organization any longer after the utterly shambolic way they handled this back when it could have been contained.
And if the Brits know nothing, who does? Some of the finest universities are here in London, in addition to Oxford and Cambridge and others.
There are people who have been studying this sort of stuff all their life and, for some of them, this is what they live for, you know they finally get to see it live.
So they’ve been keeping an eye, since whispers started in early January, and initially Britain did a fine job containing it by testing and tracing, but now they have a more long term strategy.
They are thinking not just about now, but also about autumn or when winter comes back.
In addition they’re thinking everyone will get it because for most it’s just a common cold, but for some it is serious, while at the same time it is highly infectious.
So it will have to run its course with the point being to manage how it does so, to slow it down and spread it out in order to buy time and so that it’s a more gradual process rather than all at once.
The media however appears to be very keen for everyone to do exactly what China has done, wiping people into a frenzy to sign a petition requesting an immediate lockdown.
Channel 4 news, for example, put up a techy who has no medical background against a proper expert with the techy all hysteric while the expert was giving the facts.
We like techies of course but here we have full confidence in the Imperial university and all other British excellent universities and research centers who undoubtedly know far more than any petition signer or media commentator or Chinese researcher or government official.
One such British researcher has stated lockdowns may not be the right policy, although she seems to imply that’s for now, but Brits are taking the view this isn’t something that is just going to go away.
You could stop it in its tracks right now, for example, by taking draconian measures, but then perhaps it comes back in autumn and when such measures might be necessary, people might think this is old news or whatever and so you don’t flatten the peak because they’re ‘accustomed’ now and don’t comply.
Timing thus is key, and such timing of course should be decided by those that live for this sort of thing rather than techies or media commentators or worse, opposition politicians, and even worse, by China’s approach.
Not least because we won’t know whether China’s approach is the right one until this returns.
Taking people from their homes and locking them up in quarantines with collapsing hotels while silencing doctors and mass censoring probably isn’t the right approach.
Not least because it hasn’t slowed the spread, and it might have in fact raised the peak rather than flattened it because it spreads quicker in a small closed environment. So leading to kind of everyone getting it at the same time which is the opposite of what you want.
Yet, who knows what China wants. What Brits want is a managed navigation through this so that reality is addressed head on and the impact on health is minimized.
Locking people indoors might appear to be the best way to minimize it, but what is actually the best way is for the excellent British scientists to say.
The rest should basically shut up, and focus their efforts on doing what they’re told, which isn’t necessarily easy as a whole family staying indoors for seven days for example, as they might be asked soon enough, is a fairly difficult thing to do. Like, who walks the dog?
But doing it that way you’d think makes more sense than asking everyone to stay indoors at the same time, when they don’t have symptoms or they might have gone through it and are now immunized, which might mean you actually want them to go out because you know someone has to produce the bread to eat.
They’re planing to pass laws to detain people with symptoms outdoors, so they probably can enforce self-quarantine for symptomatic people, and thus contain it in a targeted way to lower the peak rather than raising it by more crude approaches of shutting down everything when that doesn’t even work as this has spread and therefore will have to run its course in a managed and gradual way.
Meaning Britain will hopefully show us why it is Britain. Why it is the land of magna carta, of the first civil service 1,000 years ago, the inventors of the modern rule of law at the same time too, and of course the land of modern democracy and prosperity.
And that they stand alone once more in calmly facing a challenge is perhaps not surprising. For hysteria won’t change facts. Nor will panic change much. Our fine British scientists however may well change the methods the world uses to handle the crisis in an effective way while maintaining some level of normality because some will depart and thus hopefully they enjoy the present and leave with dignity instead of in an atmosphere of panic and fear when that wouldn’t change anything.
For the methods of China and the methods of Italy have clearly not worked. Let’s hope those of Britain will work a bit better to get through this natural immunization process in a way that lessens the impact while keeping the country running.