Fewer Armchair Epidemiologists, Greater Transparency Please
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn't been the only thing with an exponential growth curve. Numbers of armchair epidemiologists have also been on a steep rise. Social media provides a fertile ground for their rapidly increasing reckons. As those reckons get ever more alarmist, this has prompted calls to flatten the curve of armchair epidemiology.
Like every good joke, there is some truth to it. The last thing we need right now are loud, uninformed reckons from commentators. As a country we need to stay calm and work together. The Government has done a pretty good job up until now, and deserves our support. If we can eradicate the disease, then the lockdown will definitely have been worth it.
That doesn't mean these issues should be above debate. Nothing should ever be above debate. But that debate needs to be calm and considered, informed by expertise and the facts.
The Government could be more transparent than they have been. They have been keeping their cards pretty close to their chest up until now. It is understandable why, they don't want to panic people. However, thanks to a mixture of the looming economic crisis and lockdown cabin fever, people are now getting panicked anyway. Especially those armchair epidemiologists.
Today some health experts have called for a return to Level 2 after the lockdown. Note they aren't calling for the lockdown to end early, as some armchair epidemiologists have. Simply they are saying we should return to Level 2 rather than Level 3 after the lockdown.
As long as our hospitals are not overloaded they are arguing that most people killed by COVID-19 already have severe medical conditions. Judging by the chops of the people involved, I'd say they are worried about the economic impact on the poorest in our society. These are not armchair epidemiologists, and their views should be taken seriously.
So where to from here?
In the final week of lockdown the Government needs to be a lot more transparent about the advice it is getting. Can we truly eradicate the disease, or will we need to stay alert to outbreaks? If experts are offering a range of views, what is the range? If outbreaks happen, how can we keep them contained without another lockdown? In other words how can we keep the economy ticking over? What can we learn from the approaches in Singapore, Taiwan and even Australia?