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There’s no evidence that letting the virus rip is good for the economy

Colm McCarthy


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The chart shows the seven-day pattern of new cases in Ireland and the UK up to Friday last, expressed per million population

The chart shows the seven-day pattern of new cases in Ireland and the UK up to Friday last, expressed per million population

The chart shows the seven-day pattern of new cases in Ireland and the UK up to Friday last, expressed per million population

It remains to be seen how quickly the alarming spread of Omicron in Britain is reflected here. Virologists in the UK believe the incidence could be doubling every two days. If this continues, and even if the new variant causes less severe illness, they argue that the capacity of the health system cannot withstand propagation of the disease at this extraordinary rate.

Any process that doubles every two days is explosive. Ultimately, and as a matter of arithmetic, the spread slows down as immunity is acquired the hard way — through infection. Vaccination, the easy way, cannot scale up quickly enough — a linear process always loses against exponential growth. Nor can health system capacity be expanded quickly, and it will diminish as staff absences become widespread.


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