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Containing COVID-19 (14/03/20 09:21:34)
    So Europe has become the epicenter of the Wuhan virus epidemic. We see a mix of panic and cynicism and hesitation and chaos. Most striking on my turf is the demonstration that cutting down on capacity decreases drastically the capacity and capability of coping with crises. Centralisation increases vulnerability. If one big central institution is knocked out, then large populations are left unserved.

    Some countries (like mine) seem to try to slow down dissemination rate to a level that the system can cope with (read intensive care capacity). Some seem to wish to keep the numbers down by limiting the availability of diagnostic tests. Tests cost money, and high numbers are embarrassing, and non-private health care is communism.

    One scenario nicely illustrated on curves I saw on BBC says that if drastic measures are taken too early, the peak will just be delayed. I add: unless there is a plan to delay the spread long enough that the population may be vaccinated. So if the government is willing and able to spend all that money on a future, not yet existing, vaccine, then that measure is sensible. But if the infection is already inside the borders, then stopping influx of foreigners will not prevent exponential growth. Drastic measures must have a limited duration and cannot go on for ever, so how long can the system hold out?

    We live in interesting times. I hope all of you with high age and/or pre-existing illness will keep clear until a safe and effective vaccine is available. And the world will have to rethink vulnerability caused by centralisation, urbanisation, intercontinental travel and transport. So perhaps we can have better protection of wildlife (no more eating of wild bats or apes (think ebola)) and less flying that injects CO2 into the upper atmosphere.

    So perhaps?

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Containing COVID-19