I do not know about you, but these lock-down stages make no sense to me at all. They are a confusion of frameworks, rules, permissions, sectors, and formula’s that I cannot make head or tail of. How on earth do we move from a Stage 4 to a Stage 3 to Stage 2 to Stage 1?
We must be very clear that the ONLY reason for a lock-down is to reduce the spread of the virus by restricting human movement thus enabling the healthcare system to not become overwhelmed. The so called “flattening of the curve”. Aside from an extended total lock-down (and economic suicide) there is no other scenario other than a vaccine to stop a huge majority of our population getting this virus. It is inevitable.
But to understand this curve and the decisions that get made, we seem to be fixated on measuring the # of 1. Tests 2. Confirmed cases 3. Deaths and 4. Recoveries. With the number of deaths being the “freak out metric” given we have no context on how to view & evaluate these absolute numbers. Apparently 100 deaths are statistically an inflection point. What about 1,000 or 10,000? More seems bad. Let us freak out. And to that point – why aren’t we making more of the % of recoveries – surely a 97% recovery rate is far less fear inducing than a 3% death rate?
Unfortunately, these metrics give us information, but they do not give us insight and they certainly cannot in my opinion be a measure for a Lockdown Grading System from Phase 5 to Phase 1.
This is because it is inevitable that all these metrics will go up when you ease the lockdown and resume “normal” life. If the metrics go up (which they will) do, we scale back up to Phase 5?
It is complicated, prone to misinterpretation and heavy handedness, and I believe we need an alternative measure when it comes to lock-down and the decisions that are being made.
Surely, the metric the government needs to be measuring and communicating to us all is – PREPAREDNESS.
How PREPARED are we for this thing? That comes down to truly clear things that the government CAN control, and CAN communicate clearly and with authority. It is also a measurement any citizen can understand, and CAN change their behaviour around.
Surely if we reframe the Stages of the Lock-down around PREPAREDNESS everyone will understand the risks and the rewards of proper social distancing behaviour?
As a simple example, PREPAREDNESS can work with ratio’s (numbers made up for illustration purposes):
e.g. Ratio of Ventilators to People:
Stage 5 = no ventilators
Stage 4 = 1 ventilator to 1,000 people
Stage 3 = 10 ventilators to 1,000 people
Stage 2 = 100 ventilators to 1,000 people
Stage 1 = 1000 ventilators to 1,000 people
Or Face Masks to Population:
Stage 5 = 10m masks or 20% of population
Stage 4 = 20m masks or 40% of population
Stage 3 = 30m masks or 60% of population
Stage 2 = 40m masks or 80% of population
Stage 1 = 50m masks or 100% of population
You do the same with Sanitising stations, Hospital beds, Face Shields, Vaccines etc across all the stages and in the correct ratios to form a combined PREPAREDNESS score or index and use that so we can all understand.
It is a clear and measurable set of metrics and if we are PREPARED and meet the overall score, we go DOWN a level because the health care system can handle it. If we do not, we need to stay there, until Citizens, Private Business and government mobilise around the missing pieces with say Citizens focusing on Face Masks & sanitisers, Government tackling hospital beds, Private Business sorting Ventilators, Pharma sorting vaccines etc
With one common, easily understood and easily communicated metric both Government, Private Business & Citizens can then focus their efforts and budgets on getting PREPARED rather than just being SCARED?
Behind the scenes – Jason Harrison is a partner and group Managing Director of M&C Saatchi Abel – www.mcsaatchiabel.co.za
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