When Boris Johnson first set out to control coronavirus he did not recommend a shutdown of the UK. But then a model predicting the progression of the novel coronavirus pandemic produced by researchers at Imperial College London changed his mind, suggesting that hundreds of thousands of people would be infected and require hospital attention. He them declared policy of social isolation and distancing.
Today, however, a new model from Oxford University is challenging its accuracy, the Financial Times reports.
The Oxford study suggests the pandemic is in a later stage than previously thought and estimates the virus has already infected at least millions of people worldwide. In the United Kingdom, which the study focuses on, half the population would have already been infected. If accurate, that would mean transmission began around mid-January and the vast majority of cases presented mild or no symptoms, says Yahoo.
Now this is interesting because it suggests this bug is not the killer we believed. Otherwise many thousands of Brits would be dead.
Is President Trump looking at these findings. Why else would he suggest that we start to get back to normal by Easter? Is he planning to ease social distancing and the other shutdown restrictions? Of course the Never Trumpers will complain that their gran died as a result of Trump lifting restrictions, but the rest of the world will welcome a return to work and trade.
The head of the study, professor Sunetra Gupta, an Oxford theoretical epidemiologist, dissed the work of the Imperial College team. “I am surprised that there has been such unqualified acceptance of the Imperial model,” she said.
If her work is accurate, that would likely mean a large part of the population has built up resistance to the virus. Which puts “herd immunity” back in the mix. This means if a large portion of the community is already immune there are fewer ways to transmit the disease.
Theoretically, then, social restrictions could ease sooner than anticipated in the UK. What needs to be done now, Gupta said, is a whole lot of antibody testing to figure out who may have contracted the virus.
This is a global virus. If the Oxford findings are true there – they’re true here. Let’s do some testing and find out.