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How do we think about the UK lockdown debate?
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The pandemic will kill, lockdown or no lockdown

The coronavirus model to come out of Carnegie Mellon predicts that regardless of lockdown, the virus will create panic and kill huge numbers. Professor Wesley Pegden's model shows that unless large numbers of people are exposed at one time, lifting measures will cause the same harm as keeping them in place. In which case, why not end lockdown now?
Carnegie Mellon Coronavirus Government Health Lockdown United Kingdom


The global outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in early 2020 led to national and international measures of social distancing, lockdowns and quarantines. The UK has imposed a national lockdown since the 23rd March 2020. Ever since, the country is slowly easing its lockdown measures but there is no immediate return to the status quo prior to the pandemic. [1]

The Argument

Keeping people in lockdown makes no difference to the effects of the pandemic. All it does is delay the inevitable. [2] Lockdown will not save an important number of lives and only buys time for governments trying to improve nationwide testing capabilities and to make sure the equipment of hospitals is sufficient to deal with a high number of patients at the same time. This is why lockdown measures in the UK should be completely lifted. According to Professor Pedgen of Carnegie Mellon University, lockdown is not at all effective if it is “not followed by a uniform strategy to manage new infections without overwhelming the health system leads to a fall resurgence that eclipses the spring peak.” [3] Lockdown is just a way to delay the devastating effects of the virus by pushing the peak of the virus into next winter rather than dealing with it over summer. Overall, he predicts that this will lead to 50% more infections and deaths than if no lockdown was imposed. This illustrates why any remaining lockdown measures should be lifted to ease this predicted effect. Even if it doesn’t sound good, it would be more efficient to expose more people to the virus at the same time in a short period than thinking that simply avoiding transmissions will be saving more people. We must accept that whatever model we choose, lives will be lost with or without lockdown. Lifting remaining lockdown measures would however have the advantage of allowing the economy to start working normally again, saving jobs and prosperity.

Counter arguments

Taking away all lockdown measures will harm the UK. More lives will be lost and without adapting the “flatten the curve” approach, the healthcare system and the NHS will not be able to provide the capacities to deal with the stark increase of patients with special needs due to COVID-19. [4] Lockdown is an important measure to stop transmissions from happening and allows to develop a strategy that will make individual quarantines and more concentrated lockdown efforts more feasible for the following months.



Even in difficult situations, personal liberty shall weigh the highest if the different countermeasures are conflicting and have not been put to test long enough


[P1] If a measure is not proven to be efficient, it shouldn’t be implemented [P2] If two concurring measures have uncertain outcomes, the least disruptive one shall be applied.

Rejecting the premises

[P1] If a measure is not proven to be efficient, it should be implemented because there is a chance that it will prove to be effective. [P2] If two concurring measures have uncertain outcomes, the least disruptive one is not necessarily the best option.


This page was last edited on Monday, 26 Oct 2020 at 14:46 UTC

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