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Lockdown or herd immunity? Wrong question - innovation may rewrite your expected scenarios

By Laci Kiszely

COVID-19 revealed a typical decision-making bias: we tend to choose from options that are available already and assume factors out of our control will not have a significant impact on any long-term outcome. Most of the ongoing arguments around lockdown revolve around a binary situation: you either sacrifice people or economy. Lockdown or herd immunity.

In my view, the impact of our ability to innovate is simply left out of the equation.

We may not foresee the exact future scenarios BUT we can anticipate that ongoing efforts on a global level will improve the situation. Lockdowns and restrictive measures are not necessary until the "silver bullet vaccine" is found because we will out-invent the virus in the meantime, already reducing its impact.

We are finding ways to diagnose faster and more accurately, for preventing extreme contagion through understanding key characteristics of the spread as well as for improving medical treatments. We are gaining experience and getting better literally week after week, which will also have an impact on the fatality rate.

What if a future COVID-19 impact will indeed be lower and better controlled as a result of countless innovations, even before any vaccine is out there? THEN it will be very difficult to honestly appreciate any "sacrifice now" strategy. I know it is still a sort of decision-making bet, and it is easier to think about only what is already available - but perhaps the worst bias is to think we are unable to adapt.

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