A Time for PatienceWe Should Be Adopting Stricter Measures, Not Loosening the Lockdown
A DER SPIEGEL Editorial By Rafaela von Bredow
People are growing increasingly impatient over the coronavirus lockdown, and politicians are now debating whether to loosen measures. From a scientific point of view this is a disaster. Measures should actually be tightened until we know more about the virus.
Anyone who hasn’t explained to their elderly parents how to use Skype or Facetime yet should do so soon. It’s worth it. Unfortunately. It’s likely our grandparents will be living in isolation for a long time to come. And it’s also possible they will have to go back into isolation repeatedly in the years to come, for months at a time — without their grandchildren, hugs or the ability to get close to other people.
As long as we want to prevent the kind of human inferno caused by the outbreaks in Italy and Spain, we will have to maintain the isolation we have had so far in Germany. The fact that we might have to live with this until 2022 isn’t scaremongering — it’s a realistic scenario. That’s what Harvard professor Stephen Kissler and researchers working with him have just calculated for the United States. The underlying figures may differ from those in Germany, but the dynamics are likely to be similar.
Kissler’s curves depict the catastrophic scenario of an everyday shutdown that would have to be imposed repeatedly if governments dared to relax social distancing measures. Depending on the spread of the disease, people might have to spend up to three-quarters of a year in isolation to prevent overloading the health care system. They write that there could even be a new outbreak of the pathogen as late as 2024.