An important thread written by Dr Emma Hodcroft that openly expresses the anxiety of Covid-19 researchers and health workers faced with the premature loosening of lockdowns for political and economical rather than scientific reasons.

First published in April 2020.

“For many, I’m the evil guy crippling the economy.”


A lot of us scientists working on COVID-19 (SARSCoV2) right now are feeling this. We don’t like lockdowns. We know so many are suffering. They hurt us, and those we love, too.

But we know ending lockdowns too early = more death.

Seeing discourse fracture as people in less-affected areas start to feel like we have overreacted – this is really hard. It makes me despair a little bit. And I haven’t yet found a way to reach people – to convey that their “not so bad” is thanks to these measures.

Pressure from businesses on governments is rising steadily. I worry every day that countries are not mobilising their test, trace and isolate fast enough. In many places, it is calm now – but it is the same calm we had in February, when so many watched idle while Italy burned with cases.

Despite seeing the opposite – right before our eyes, mere weeks ago – the “it won’t happen here” and “it’s not so bad” mentality persists – perhaps even stronger now. Even in countries with locations where it has been (is still!) bad – USA, UK – some are pushing to end lockdowns.

With case numbers still high – often somewhat unknowingly high, because of a lack of testing – this would simply be ending a time-out. And while it might take a moment for this to become obvious, the virus will quickly resume its exponential dance, claiming life after life.

In other places we have successfully pushed a ‘semi-reset’ button with lockdowns. But we didn’t defeat the virus – we are just rewound to where we were a few weeks ago. If we go back to normal, we will relive history. Cases beget cases. One case now can be hundreds in a few weeks.

I worry people are becoming desensitised to the deaths. I am not. I feel the weight every day of all the deaths we could have prevented. And all the deaths we can still prevent.

But lives are saved only if we persist. Only if we stay the course. Only if we take this seriously. Nobody wants lockdowns to continue. We know that is not possible. But we use them to rewind – to a time of fewer COVID-19 cases – so we can do better this time.

So that this time, we don’t need a lockdown. This time, we test often, trace fast, isolate quickly. This time, more businesses can stay open. This time, we provide for those that the policies hurt. This time, our healthcare workers are protected. This time, less people die.

We will all benefit – in lives and economy – if we focus on bringing cases down (often with lockdowns) and keeping them down (with test, trace and isolate). I don’t know more ways to explain that we don’t have another option which doesn’t involve a lot of death.

It is not ‘hopeless’ or ‘futile’ - we can fight this virus and enjoy a semi-normal life. Don’t let people tell you it is not possible. But we have to do this together. We must invest in this future – in behaviour and in cash. I promise: it is worth it.

Tweets posted on 28 April 2020 by @firefoxx66.

[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 29 April 2020 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

(Cover: Dreamstime/Bennymarty.)

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