Monday, 23 Nov 2020

Six of the best expert views from Sky’s Postcode Lockdown: A Divided Nation

Coronavirus cases are rising rapidly in the UK.

With ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions, depending on where you live, Sky News set out to answer the question: What is the right approach to combat a second wave?

In a special programme Postcode Lockdown: A Divided Nation, a panel of experts were asked for their views on the best strategies to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s state epidemiologist, Kalipso Chalkidou, professor of Public Health at Imperial College London, and Professor Sir Mark Walport, ex UK chief scientific adviser and SAGE group member, gave their views.

Here are some of the standout opinions.

‘Evidence is clear a circuit break is needed’

Professor Sir Mark Walport said the evidence is “pretty clear” that a circuit breaker was, and still is needed to help stem rising cases.

He said Test and Trace is “chasing demand… what it’s got to do is get ahead of demand”, and a circuit break lockdown would help with this.

‘A lockdown is just pushing the problem ahead for a couple of weeks’

Anders Tegnell said social distancing is the “key” to controlling the virus and the evidence is “shaky” on lockdowns.

He said: “If you don’t have a plan on what to do afterward, a lockdown is just pushing the problem ahead for a couple of weeks.”

Dr Tegnell added controlling the virus is made worse by the fact people are getting “tired” of restrictions.

‘Lockdowns are not some sort of magic panacea’

Professor Kalipso Chalkidou said: “SAGE has acknowledged there’s very limited evidence in support of the effectiveness of lockdowns – we have been here eight months ago and now we’re in the same situation.”

She wondered if we are being presented with “false choices” and all the accurate information.

She added: “Lockdowns are not some sort of magic panacea.”

‘People think a vaccine will eradicate it, I don’t think that will happen’

Dr Tegnell said humanity will have to adapt and learn to live with the virus as a vaccine. “won’t eradicate it” completely.

He said vaccines will help to “protect the most vulnerable in the population” but a jab “won’t mean life [goes] back to normal”.

‘Economy may suffer as just as much if we don’t stop COVID-19’

“We have to get on top of this pandemic,” Professor Walport said.

He said social distancing and Test and Trace will be needed to manage the virus in the long-term but that in the short-term we “are going to have to stop this”.

He added: “It may come down to the economy is going to suffer just as much if we don’t.”

Countries were too hasty putting restrictions in place’

Dr Tegnell said that Sweden got “many things” right with its approach to coronavirus and not having a formal lockdown.

He said the country “kept [its] health services running with high-quality care” and has seen “a continuous slowing [of COVID-19 cases] since April”.

He said other countries were too “hasty in putting [restrictions] in place without thinking about the consequences for public health as a whole”.

Instead, Swedish authorities relied on trusting the public to follow rules, allowing them to get around a formal lockdown

He insisted Sweden did have a form of lockdown, despite there being no legal measures in place, with 30% of workers staying home, and the world shouldn’t “underestimate the number of lockdown measures” that were put in place in the country.

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