Action needed

How should we respond to the covid-19 epidemic?

To minimise the impact on lives and health, and to minimise the economic effects, we need
  • the best science
  • the best political processes.

The best science

Scientific methods have been developed to give the correct answers to questions that we feel have correct answers. A key attribute is avoidance of errors and correction of any errors that come to light. They can be justified on the basis that
  • they give consistent answers and accurate predictions
  • alternatives do not.

Good science depends on
  • sharing all the evidence, including justifying every contentious statement via a reference to a reliable source
  • forming a fair summary of all the evidence, rather than selecting the evidence that supports a particular conclusion
  • agreeing a consensus on what it means

The best political processes

Democracy is the system of government that we would choose if given the choice.

We need decisions by politicians to be what is best for the citizens, not what is best for the politicians or their financial backers.

Standards for public life in the UK have been set by the Committee on Standards in Public Life - see here.

There should be a clear plan of action. According to the available evidence, this should be local elimination (with outbreaks from travellers dealt with as they occur); this is based on
  • the success of elimination policies elsewhere e.g. in China, New Zealand and Iceland
  • the similarities with Ebola outbreaks.
Read more

Political action
We need zero tolerance to departures from good political decision-making.

Marcus Ball has founded "Stop Lying In Politics" a non-partisan, not for profit campaign: https://www.stoplyinginpolitics.org/

Notes on Ebola
Ebola is not endemic in mankind, but jumps from animals (its usual host) to man and causes outbreaks from time to time.

The number of long term infectious human carriers is either very small or zero. Outbreaks have so far always been contained and eradicated.


References
[1]Johns Hopkins Hospital database of cases https://github.com/CSSEGISandData/COVID-19/blob/master/csse_covid_19_data/csse_covid_19_time_series/time_series_covid19_confirmed_global.csv

First published: 5 Jun 2020
Last updated: 16 Sep 2020