Friday, 30 October 2020

Pity the policymakers

Imagine you are a UK politician with power during this Covid crisis. It doesn't matter which party, or whether your power is national or local, whether you are PM or a mayor. Imagine yourself as a politician you like, or one you hate.
You need to make policy, and you need data to base that policy on. This week, two large studies have delivered some interesting and contradictory results.
According to Imperial College, there are ~96,000 cases a day in England alone. The R-rate is 1.56, and the number of cases are doubling every 9 days.
This may point to a hard lockdown - probably national - being required immediately.
Another study from Kings / ZOE points at ~44,000 cases a day in the UK as a whole (not just England). The R-rate is 1.1, and the cases are doubling every 29 days.
In this scenario, just a few changes - perhaps even targeted local ones - could push the R-value below 1. It is still not a good situation, but it paints a very different picture from the Imperial study.
The national test figures, which only pick up symptomatic cases that have been tested, point at ~23,000 new cases a day. This will be a low figure.
So you are that politician. You need to make a decision in the next few days, and cannot afford to wait for more data. What do you do?
Not easy, is it?
Pity the politicians who have to make decisions based on such contradictory data - especially where those decisions are a balance of life, death, health, wealth and happiness. I wouldn't want to do it.

1 comment:

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