Coronavirus Lockdown – The Way Forward

A proposal in the Lancet Journal by Julian Dopito of The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine: 

We as a population are being offered alternating periods of lockdown and relaxation of restrictions during this coronavirus disease pandemic.

Extended periods of lockdown will increase economic and social damage. 

Extended periods of relaxation will almost certainly trigger further epidemic waves of deaths.

These cycles will probably kill tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people before a vaccine becomes available. 

Dopito has suggested an alternative strategy, he recommends weekly evaluation by antigen, that is the PCR swab of the whole population in an entire city, following which there is strict household quarantine for those with a positive test. 

Quarantine would only end when all residents of the household test negative at the same time.  Those with negative tests can then resume normal life. 

A feasibility study is suggested in cities with 200,000 to 300,000 people and should continue when this current lockdown ends. At this time, it is hoped that the infection rate will be fairly low but rising.  It would then be apparent whether if this was trialled at which number the rate of infection rises or falls compared with the rest of the United Kingdom. 

A local population of 200,000 people with a 90% compliance would require 26,000 tests per day. 

With these results, policy will then be based on real time evidence rather than modelling assumptions. 

An interesting proposal, but could it really be undertaken? 

For the whole country it would require 10 million tests to be done daily.  The proposal suggests that testing would be voluntary but there would be penalties for those breaching quarantine after a positive test in the household. 

He suggests helplines to support quarantined households with access to income compensation, mental health support and food delivery. 

Is this a proposal that could be entertained in a democratic society?

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