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Here are five ways the government could have avoided 100,000 Covid deaths

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Yesterday Britain passed a grim milestone. A further 1,631 deaths from Covid-19 were recorded, taking the official tally above 100,000, though data from the Office for National Statistics suggests the total number will now be nearer 120,000. In a briefing, Boris Johnson has said his government did everything it could to minimise the loss of life, but these deaths were far from inevitable. While the number of UK deaths has entered the hundreds of thousands, New Zealand has recorded only 25 deaths from Covid-19 so far. Taiwan has recorded seven, Australia 909, Finland 655, Norway 548 and Singapore 29. These countries have largely returned to normal daily life.

In the first year of the pandemic, the UK faced three big challenges. Our national government had no long-term strategy for suppressing the virus beyond a continual cycle of lockdowns. Even now we still don’t know what the government’s plans for the next six months are. In the early days of the pandemic, the UK treated Covid-19 like a bad flu. The government halted testing, and the initial plan seemed to be allow the virus to run unchecked through the population (the “herd immunity” approach). Finally, ministers have pitted the economy against public health, instead of realising that the health of the economy depends upon a healthy population.

Those in the anti-lockdown camp mistakenly believe that we could have traded these deaths for a “normal life” and a strong economy. Yet this isn’t how Covid has played out in any country in the world. Either you reopen the economy before the virus is under control, and endure thousands of deaths, or you manage your public health problem before getting the economy going again. Throughout the pandemic, Britain was overreliant on modelling, cynical fatalism and complicated solutions. The challenge was never what to do when faced with this new virus, it was going out and doing it. The complexity was in........

© The Guardian

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