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Covid-19: Experts debate merits of lockdowns versus “focused protection”

BMJ 2020; 371 doi: (Published 03 November 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4263

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  1. Jeanne Lenzer
  1. New York, USA

Three experts with widely differing viewpoints regarding appropriate public health measures to control the spread of covid-19 weighed in on lockdowns during a debate1 sponsored by Johns Hopkins University.

The experts represented viewpoints ranging from advocacy for “focused protection” as described in the Great Barrington Declaration2 to recommendations for population-wide mandates as described in the John Snow Memorandum.3

David Dowdy, associate professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, said he agreed with “much of the content” of the memorandum, which states that broad lockdowns were initially necessary to “reduce mortality and to prevent healthcare services from being overwhelmed” but that the focus should shift to detecting localised outbreaks through a “comprehensive find, test, trace, isolate, and support system” approach once low levels of covid-19 are attained.

Dowdy cited Australia’s approach of increased testing to determine where transmission is occurring and then focusing interventions on local geographic areas (for example, postal codes) …

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