What is ZeroCovid?
It is the policy aimed at eliminating the enormous number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths arising from Covid-19 in order to suppress the virus and move on, rather than face repeated cycles of infection and lockdown.
It means getting these down to extremely low numbers through stringent lockdown, and keeping them there with a fully effective test and trace system. Where people are asked to self-isolate, they should be provided with all the necessary financial and other support they need.
Is ZeroCovid achievable?
Yes, a number of countries have achieved it.
But aren’t they mainly low-population islands?
Australia and New Zealand have both achieved it, that’s true. But so have China, Viet Nam, Thailand and others, none of whom are low-population countries or islands.
Won’t ZeroCovid damage the economy, leading to job losses?
No. ZeroCovid is based on the strict lockdown of all non-essential work, plus proper testing, tracing and financially supported isolation. If all of those are implemented, then the shutdown last weeks. We have been lurching from lockdown to easing for almost a year, with huge loss of jobs and business failures. Other countries implementing ZeroCovid are well into economic recovery.
What about the policy impact on workers?
Only non-essential workers should be kept at homes. Clearly, many transport, telecoms, post workers are essential, along with everyone in key manufacturing sectors, such as food, medicines and pharmaceuticals, as well their distribution and retail industries. Everyone else should receive full pay for the weeks they are in lockdown.
Is it affordable?
The government has already spent well over £300 billion on bail-outs. It will spend more as the effects of the virus drag on. It is cheaper to have an effective lockdown and Zero Covid policy. Full furlough support, on 100% rather than 80% is a tiny marginal cost.
What about the vaccines?
Vaccines are a great tool, if administered properly. But they are not a magic bullet. Vaccinated people can still contract the virus and transmit it. Vaccines themselves cannot allow a return to the status quo before the pandemic. We need to eliminate the virus, as other countries have successfully done.