Is lockdown worthwhile?

It’s so strange to find myself philosophically estranged from most of my social circle in the sense that everyone seems to be heavily pro-lockdown while I’m more of a sceptic. Disturbingly, the non-pro-lockdown voices being heard are mostly libertarian / hard right / anti-vaxxers, and they’re having mass gatherings in protest; I don’t exactly want to be associated with that.

For me the scepticism is: we don’t know if there will be a vaccine. Even if there is, how long will it be until it’s not only ready but available in huge quantities to be administered to the majority of the population?

I find it hard to imagine those countries currently considered “successful” can seriously contain the virus until then with testing and tracing, unless they close their borders or impose quarantine, which has its own problems; I think it will take lockdown-type restrictions on and off to keep the infection rate as low as people want it to be, and I think the human cost of that (e.g. this among many other things) is probably going to be too high – especially if there is ultimately no effective vaccine, in which case it’s just delaying the inevitable.

As for countries (like the UK) that didn’t manage to contain it, I have a hunch that opening up now won’t be as painful as we fear: I think that the infection may have spread a lot further already than official reporting, and / or that the epidemic growth is more self-limiting than Imperial models suggested, so that some places might already have achieved a decent amount of immunity (e.g. London). But what do I know? Nothing really. This is just what makes most sense to me so far.

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