Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Covid-19 and community mitigation strategies in a pandemic

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: (Published 17 March 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m1066

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Rapid Response:

'Lockdown'- desperate and impractical?

In the past, a crisis would lead people to crowd into churches. But now they scuttle into supermarkets instead. Thus has the empty creed of consumerism replaced the fullness of faith.

The problem with this virus is the lack of a 'jab', a vaccine.

There are thus two equally unpleasant options:

First: Let the virus do as it wishes, until a 'herd immunity' seems to be built up. The problem with this approach is that it would entail the deaths of the elderly and the vulnerable - such as me.

Second: Put society in 'lockdown', and wait for the promised vaccine - which may not turn up for months. The isolation and misery involved would make 'lockdown' potentially impractical.

Why is the press using a term such as 'lockdown', which is so awfully melodramatic, instead of 'confinement'?

The previous public health scare on this level involved AIDS, in the 1980s. The gay community often ignored the risks of 'bareback sex'; condoms were not always used. People's behaviour does not change, whatever the Government may insist. Without modern drug treatments, AIDS could not have been driven back. AIDS is still not curable, and there is no actual vaccine for it.

I suspect that 'lockdown' may be a hopeless alternative in a society that calls itself 'free'.

Sadly, modern medicine cannot solve every dilemma.

This virus may checkmate the NHS.

Competing interests: No competing interests

23 March 2020
Zekria Ibrahimi
psychiatric patient
West London Mental Health Trust
Claybrook Centre W12