We recently (15 April, 2020) wrote an article suggesting that the UK lockdown was working – although there were serious gaps in the government’s lockdown strategy – but that it was too early to say how well it was working.
With the passage of time, we have more information. And that information confirms not only that the lockdown is working, but that it is working quite well.
The previous article contained this chart:
We commented that although it was clear that the black line, representing reported deaths, had diverged from the laissez-faire line, and at the lockdown was certainly having an effect, it was too early to say which of the two lockdown lines was more likely to represent the actual outcome in the UK.
Based on yesterday’s data (23 April), the chart now looks like this:
While it is still far too early to draw any firm conclusions, the line looks to be tracking much closer to the hard lockdown line than the soft lockdown line. And this of course is tremendously good news.
Firstly, and most importantly, the final death toll on the hard lockdown line is far lower than it would be on the soft lockdown line. The lockdown is saving tens of thousands of lives.
Secondly, because the lockdown is being so effective, the virus is retreating faster than it would otherwise do, and this makes the transition to a safe exit strategy such as industrial-scale Testing, Tracing and Isolation both easier and more imminent.
The government has missed its original target of 20,000 for reported deaths from the virus (and this according to the FT probably represents a total death toll of over 40,000 so far), but if it sticks to lockdown until it has a proven approach to TTI in place, it could still keep the reported death toll below 40,000. Keeping reported deaths below that level and total deaths below 80,000 should now become an explicit aim of government policy.
There are still very important gaps in the lockdown strategy that the government should plug. But at the same time we should celebrate the remarkable progress that we have made in the UK.
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