COVID-19: new UofG-led report examines options for exiting the pandemic

Issued: Fri, 17 Apr 2020 15:26:00 BST

The University of Glasgow's Ad Hoc Response Team, led by Professor Beatrice Heuser, Chair of International Relations, has published a report analysing the options open to the UK Government and other nations as they seek to move out of COVID-19 lockdown.Beatrice Heuser portrait

The report, "COVID-19: policy options, effects and resulting scenarios (May 2020-end 2021)", is published together with Coriolis Technologies.

Governments the world over are facing four options, the report argues:

  1. To continue lockdown until a vaccine or other strongly effective mitigating medication is found.  This is not expected before well into 2021.
  2. To lift the lockdown and reimpose it periodically, as all lifting will invariably start up the infections again.  
  3. To lift the lockdown partially so that most businesses and schools can open again, but continue with extensive restrictions to keep the infection rates down: no mass gatherings, no restaurants and cafes to open again, no tourism, mass testing and wearing of masks, intrusions on civil liberties by tracking and isolating infected individuals.
  4. To go back to business as usual, hoping for herd immunity which we would get only once 60-80% of the population has contracted the illness, of course with a considerable number of old and otherwise vulnerable people not surviving.

Beatrice Heuser portrait

Professor Heuser argues: "Unfortunately, with little or no co-ordination, governments are one by one plumping for Option 3 as they consider Options 1 and 2 too expensive.  But Option 3 – euphemistically presented as “the end of lockdown” – may well have to cede to one or more new lockdowns if the remaining measures are not enough to contain a surge in reinfections overstretching the capacities of health services.  Would going for a planned and co-ordinated Option 2 not be better?