Professor Chris Whitty is Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England, the UK government's Chief Medical Adviser and head of the public health profession. This is what he said on the fifth of May 2020, and subsequent events have, I think, shown him to be right:
'A significant proportion of people will not get this virus at all at any point in the epidemic which is going to go on for a long period of time.
'Of those who do, some of them will get the virus without even knowing it, they will have the virus with no symptoms at all, asymptomatic carriage, and we know that happens.
'Of those who get symptoms, the great majority, probably 80%, will have a mild or moderate disease, might be bad enough for them to have to go to bed for a few days, not bad enough for them to have to go to the doctor.
'An unfortunate minority will have to go as far as hospital; but the majority of those will just need oxygen and will then leave hospital; and then a minority of those will end up having to go to severe and critical care, and some of them sadly will die, but that’s a minority, it's 1%, or possibly even less than 1% overall, and even in the highest risk group, this is significantly less than 20%, i.e. the great majority of people, even the very highest groups, if they catch this virus will not die.'
So it's entirely fair, if not popular with the
censors 'fact-checkers' of the social and news media, to ask whether the right strategy has been adopted.
For example, the Government already had a contingency plan for a flu epidemic, drawn up in 2011 - https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/213717/dh_131040.pdf - in which the authors noted the costly and disruptive consequences of school closures (4.25), the importance to public morale of 'large public gatherings or crowded events' (4.21) and that face masks for the public tended not to be effective, because of incorrect habits of use (4.15).
Covid-19 spreads more easily than seasonal influenza and the mortality rate for those who have to be taken to hospital is higher - https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(20)30527-0/fulltext - but it is now clear that old age and comorbidities (e.g. obesity, diabetes) are significant factors; those who are younger and in reasonable health have little to fear.
Aside from the impact on the economy, it's also clear that there is a clinical - even a mortality - cost in terms of patients with other medical needs having their treatment delayed or cancelled.
Let the sceptical questioning continue - especially from the Opposition in Parliament, who seem to have adopted the line that they would have done the same as HMG, only earlier and more drastically.