A virus that could almost double the number of deaths a year in the UK was left to spread untracked and could have overwhelmed the NHS. That can’t be allowed to happen again
The arms race between human immunity and viral pathogens is constant. The contest had been hidden from the public until swine flu, the first global influenza pandemic for more than 40 years, hit the UK in 2009. This outbreak was contained with fewer than 500 deaths. Britain was lulled into a false sense of security that its infection control measures would be enough to contain a new infectious disease.
Governments pursued a course of mitigation, where it is accepted a deadly disease will spread but the losses are bearable. This was true of Labour and Conservative governments. Alan Johnson, health secretary in Gordon Brown’s administration, admitted to a peers’ inquiry in 2009 that at the “peak of a ‘reasonable worst-care scenario’ pandemic, intensive care capacity may well be inadequate”. That this calculation had not changed since is the reason for the extreme lockdown we are enduring.
Link : The Guardian view on the Covid-19 strategy: insuring against a killer