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20th Apr 2020

Why did the British government think it could beat coronavirus with behavioural science?

Oli Dugmore

The term ‘herd immunity’ has become kryptonite to the British government

What is the British government’s policy to the outbreak of COVID-19? Ask someone on the street (do not go out onto the street, just message a friend) and it’s unlikely they’ll be able to say for sure what it is. The word ‘lockdown’ will come up, and it’s likely that the term ‘herd immunity’ will as well.

The government denies that herd immunity was ever policy in its approach for dealing with coronavirus, and questions regarding it have been labelled as “distraction tactics” by health secretary Matt Hancock.

But what is clear is that, even after enacting lockdown in the United Kingdom, the British government, including prime minister Boris Johnson, has delivered mixed messaging on just how seriously people should take the government’s advice.

Hardeep Matharu is the editor of the Byline Times. She spoke to JOE about the government’s initial strategy for dealing with coronavirus, and hypernormalisation.