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I am deeply uncomfortable with the message that UK is actively pursuing ‘herd immunity’ as the main COVID-19 strategy. Our group’s scenario modelling has focused on reducing two main things: peak healthcare demand and deaths... 1/
For me, herd immunity has never been the outright aim, it’s been a tragic consequence of having a virus that - based on current evidence - is unlikely to be fully controllable in long term in the UK. 2/
Sadly, even large-scale changes (like those other European countries are making, and we may very soon) may not control COVID for long. We must flatten the curve as much as possible, but there could still be many infections (and hence immunity). 3/
The communication about COVID science has generally been clear in the UK, but talk of ‘herd immunity as the aim’ is totally wide of the mark. Having large numbers infected isn’t the aim here, even if it may be the outcome. 4/
A lot of modellers around the world are working flat out to find best way to minimise impact on population and healthcare. A side effect may end up being herd immunity, but this is merely a consequence of a very tough option - albeit one that may help prevent another outbreak. 5/
Clearly we cannot finely tune the path of this outbreak. The best we can do is identify actions that have highest chance of effectively and sustainably reducing impact on the population and burden on NHS. 6/
To be clear: we have to reduce impact on UK as much as we can. But we are in this for the long term. A couple of weeks of closed schools and cancelled events won’t solve this - we will have to fundamentally change our lifestyles. 7/
Given the seriousness of the situation, we are obviously working to get our latest modelling analysis out in the public domain as soon as we can. 8/8
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