“We had milder interventions in place because no one thought it would be acceptable politically to shut the country down.” He added: “We didn’t model it because it didn’t seem to be on the agenda. And Imperial didn’t look at it either.”
“Johnson held out against stringent measures, saying he was following the advice of the government’s scientists. He asserted on March 9: “We are doing everything we can to combat this outbreak, based on the very latest scientific and medical advice.” Indeed, the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, SAGE, had recommended that day, with no dissension recorded in its summary, that the UK reject a China-style lockdown. SAGE decided that “implementing a subset of measures would be ideal,” according to a record of its conclusions. Tougher measures could create a “large second epidemic wave once the measures were lifted,” SAGE said.”
“Now, promoted by the Imperial study, the advice from the operations subgroup of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza group on Modelling (SPI-M-O) on 16 March was notably different in tone from a week earlier. The measures at first envisaged – case-by-case isolation, household isolation and social distancing of vulnerable groups – was now “unlikely to prevent critical care facilities being overwhelmed”. Everything now had to be tried, including “general social distancing and school closures”, which offered the best chance of disease control.”
“What allowed Britain to alter course, said Edmunds, was a lockdown in Italy that “opened up the policy space” coupled with new data. First came a paper by Edmunds’ own London School team that examined intermittent lockdowns, sent to the modelling committee on March 11 and validated by Edinburgh University. Ferguson’s revised Imperial research followed. Woolhouse, the Edinburgh professor, confirmed the sequence. Edmunds said these new studies together had demonstrated that if the British government imposed a lengthy period of tougher measures, perhaps relaxed periodically, then the size of the epidemic could be substantially reduced.”
“People should work from home if possible, but that was largely up to employers to decide. Vague. Anyone over 70 was advised to avoid “nonessential social contact.” Vague again. The government was “moving emphatically away from” mass gatherings, but again these were still not (and are still not) banned. British understatement was in full swing — citizens, businesses, and nursing homes were asked to read between the lines and go beyond explicit government policy. The prime minister’s father announced that he would be going to the pub if he chose to, since they needed the customers.”
SOURCE: mainly macro – Read entire story here.