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The cost of a comprehensive testing-based strategy for reopening Scotland

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Craig Dalzell

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While the ongoing pandemic can be partially controlled through lockdown measures such as those implemented by the UK and other countries, it is clear that this lockdown cannot be maintained indefinitely. Until a vaccine is developed and deployed the only other way out of permanent lockdown is a strategy being employed by only a handful of countries and Scotland and the UK is not among them. Guidelines from the World Health Organisation are unambiguous. In order to properly combat the Covid-19 pandemic, countries must “Test, test, test”1. We must know where the virus is, who has it and who is at risk of catching it from them. We must understand where the infection hotspots are and possibly even where folk are becoming infected so that changes can be made. Where we identify communities which have a rapid spread we can target restrictions on social spaces or spaces where people come into contact in that area.

Countries that are not testing enough of their citizens cannot effectively protect them. Currently, Scotland ranks among the lowest in the world in terms of tests performed per postive result found.

This paper describes a model to roll out mass testing across Scotland which would allow the Scottish Government not only to determine the overall extent of the spread of coronavirus through the country but be able to then form a strategy for easing and lifting the lockdown while still remaining vigiliant and able to suppress secondary outbreaks as and when they occur.


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