Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Covid-19: elimination debate

Achieving zero covid is not easy, but the alternative is far worse

BMJ 2020; 371 doi: (Published 07 October 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m3859
  1. Martin McKee, professor of European public health
  1. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1H 9SH, UK
  1. martin.mckee{at}

Thornley and colleagues confuse eradication, permanent reduction to zero of the worldwide incidence of infection, with the reduction to zero of infection in a defined geographical area.12 New Zealand, and other countries, has shown that elimination of SARS-CoV-2 transmission can be achieved for periods of time, even though the virus might occasionally be imported either in infected individuals or on fomites, as seems likely to have been the case in Auckland. An elimination strategy accepts this and adopts measures to prevent further spread throughout the country. …

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