In a previous discussion we mentioned reliance on mathematical modelling as one of the problems of why the government mishandled the management of this epidemic and why it says that it has relied on the science throughout.
This to me, being somewhat old fashioned, but at the same time not a technophobe, is an important question in order to understand what went wrong.
There has been heavy reliance on statistics, modelling and IT number crunching. Everything is dealt with in terms of data. This has been used probably with some success in manipulation of elections, but mostly with failure in most economic modelling. The reasons are that these methods do not take account of ideology and erratic human behaviour.
This modelling has been pitted against the old fashioned way of how public health has been formulated and conducted for many years with principles set out to deal with situations in a reflex and proactive manner. I remember that at the outset of the epidemic conversations in this forum centred on the science and the data. Some even prominent scientists advocated waiting for the data before taking decisions and everyone quoted that they were guided by the science when this was far from the case. Science and research is often reflective and retrospective because of the required data. The rise of the ‘modellers’ tried to overcome this by an attempt to predict, based on known variables. But many of these variables, including those related to human behaviour are difficult or impossible to predict. Added to this is that modellers have to rely, on the case of a new virus, to base their variables on what is known from other viruses, which has now been proven to be mistaken.
So if we were to replay the management of this crisis I would advocate the following: The primary focus should have been to obtain data fast, and this would be by testing as many people as possible, not only to make a diagnosis to isolate cases, but to try to understand the nature of this disease. You can only understand the full extent of a disease by studying not just the severe cases but also the mild cases and the asymptomatic carriers. These are relatively low key public health measures that were neglected from the outset in favour of ventilators and vaccines, concentrating at the apex of the pyramid rather than the base. Then having identified individuals who are infected, these should have had proper medical quarantine, which means proper enforced isolation with all facilities provided, for 14 days.
But what has happened is a game of catch up, first concentrating on the severe cases in the NHS, then realising that by doing so you have pushed the infection to the care homes, and when deaths mount there, you then realise that you have the massive reservoir in the community. I am afraid the ‘science’ has been misused here and the scientists have allowed themselves to be exploited and I am afraid will probably be ultimately scapegoated.