Some people on social media are claiming that coronavirus is just like flu and that governments and the media are over-reacting

CV is not just flu – it is a new virus and we still have much to learn about it

CV is not just like flu – it is much more contagious and will probably prove to be much more deadly.

It is far too soon to be sure which measures were most effective and whether some have been an over-reaction, but already we are seeing dramatic differences between countries which suggest that early and tight controls are not an over-reaction but effective: Taiwan and Singapore versus Italy and Spain. The United States could well prove the most instructive case because the numbers are so great and the response has been so poor.

We will eventually know how many died as a result of the virus. We will never know how many would have died had all the social distancing, self isolation and lockdown measures not been adopted. But the Imperial College modelling in Britain suggests that, without such measures, the death toll would be greater by a factor of more than 10 times. 

It is true that the impact on the economy will cause deaths. We will never know how many deaths were attributable to loss of income, bankruptcy, anxiety, suicide and the like. And, at this stage, we have no idea how long an economic recovery will take and how comprehensive it will be.

The reality is that almost all governments – whether totalitarian like China and Iran or democratic like Italy and Spain – have to respond to immediate threats to the lives of their citizens and be seen to do so. Treating CV like a huge medical experiment by just letting it run its course is not an acceptable or moral option.


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