Reality check: Covid-19 isn’t flu, and fears of second wave are ...

World

Reality check: Covid-19 isn’t flu, and fears of second wave are unfounded

ANALYSIS | It is not like Spanish flu, and it is wrong to slavishly follow models based on it to decide lockdown policy

Hugh Pennington

The functions of a Covid-19 press conference seem to be to transmit information, praise the indefatigable, and brandish a doom-laden cudgel at the public. A common theme is that if virus-control measures are not observed, or are relaxed too soon, there will be a second “wave” or “peak” of infections.

An often-repeated prognostication has been that this second wave might be more virulent than the first and that health services would be overwhelmed. The message from Geneva during the World Health Organisation’s press briefing on May 25 was more nuanced, but of the same ilk. The point was made that the decline in cases in many countries has been due to the control measures, rather than to the virus running out of steam of its own accord, and that relaxing them could lead to an immediate second peak for which we should get ready.

I am a second-wave sceptic. I said so in evidence to the Scottish parliament’s health and sport committee in April, and was criticised by Nicola Sturgeon for it...

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