As infection rates soar across the EU, U.S. and the U.K., it’s clear that people will be living with the pandemic over winter; Severin Schwan, CEO of Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche Holding said Tuesday, it was “completely unrealistic” to expect that a Covid-19 vaccine would be available for the masses before the second half of 2021.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told Good Morning America that people need to rethink Thanksgiving celebrations with the current growth in rates of infection across the U.S.
Likewise, many EU countries are currently implementing lockdowns and curfews, in the hope of staving off the worst of the second wave and limiting the impact–the Danish have been warned that they should cancel Christmas parties.
In the first wave, many countries decided on a full lockdown but during the second and third waves, countries have been trying different strategies for a win win situation; to keep the economy afloat, to keep an electorate happy but also to protect the health of the population, especially the elderly and vulnerable.
It still isn’t clear which form of restriction works best when trying to reduce mingling and mixing in the population at large, and the question remains–should we be implementing lockdowns at planned intervals until a vaccine is available?
1) Complete lockdowns
This is the worst case scenario for every country and a last resort. After many enacted a complete lockdown in March and April, leaders are not keen to do the same again, because of the psychological and economic impacts, never mind the political; no one likes to be told to stay inside their home more than once.
Belgium is currently in lockdown again, and the prime minister of the Czech Republic, Andrej Babis, publicly apologised to Czechs on 22 October for having mismanaged the pandemic so much that the country is now forced to go into lockdown again–free movement is limited, and non-essential services and shops have been closed.
2) A short, sharp, ‘circuit-breaker’ or ‘fire-break’
In a curfew, the emphasis is on keeping people off the streets for certain periods (which stops them mixing with each other) whilst during a lockdown, people are kept more in their homes for longer periods of time–the latter is obviously the more drastic solution.
The theory behind a circuit breaker is easy to understand–by shutting the brakes hard on the pandemic’s spread for a short period of time, it eases pressure on health services and, according to Time, makes compliance far more likely because there is a known end date.
In the U.K., Wales is enacting a fire-break from 6pm, 23 October until 9 November. All non-essential businesses will close, churches and schools will close (it will coincide with the school holidays), and people are encouraged to work from home. Gatherings such as Halloween and Guy Fawkes celebrations