The COVID-19 Response Team at Imperial College London has provided crucial information that should be informing the response tactics of the United Kingdom and the United States. This information is designed to provide a prediction as to how the relief efforts are going to pan out.
While these sorts of exercises are going to err on the side of caution and could be slightly wrong, the numbers are still terrifying. There are two different objectives for these nations to choose from. They can either choose to mitigate the virus, which will allow for the treatment of more severe cases.
This is also known as the flattening of the curve. Suppression is the more aggressive approach and it is aimed towards the complete removal of the virus. The mitigation strategies that are being presented are able to ease the load on hospitals and account for the isolation of those who are diagnosed.
The strategies also account for the closing of schools. These strategies are certainly helpful and they are better than nothing. Hospitals must also be considered when these strategies are implemented, as they are still going to be well overcapacity. Since this approach is far from perfect, countries like the US and UK are looking to China and South Korea.
They have taken a far more aggressive approach to the removal of the virus. They have required their entire populations to engage in social distancing. This strategy works well but there is one major caveat: it only works well as long as it is in effect. Other countries may decide to try other suppression methods in the meantime.
As the number of new cases starts to fall, the suppression efforts allow for more intensive testing. South Korea is also employing contract tracing and quarantine measures in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. The rules when it comes to social distancing may also be relaxed and tightened as needed, so that societies do not struggle from a lack of human contact.
At a time like this, all possibilities have to be considered. These are just simulations and they come with a great deal of guesswork. No one knows exactly what lies ahead. All we can do is prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We need to be doing everything in our power to reduce the societal toll, so that we are not paying a terrible price in the months to come.
A vaccine is not going to be made available for at least one year. That makes our collective responses even more important. We must do everything in our power to keep the virus from spreading. There is some solace to be taken by the fact that the virus does not thrive in warmer temperatures.
The summer is almost upon us and experts hope that this will provide us with some level of relief. Ventilators and other forms of key equipment also need to be manufactured as quickly as possible. The United States must take this time to crack down on the virus as hard as possible.
Otherwise, who knows what might happen? Suppression tactics may be imperfect but that does not mean that they do not work. Mitigation allows for the continuance of more daily activities but that does not mean that it is the best plan. An aggressive plan that is aimed towards stomping out the virus completely as quickly as possible should be the choice here.