I’m mostly green band but I don’t want to mix with people who definitely have the virus or who are showing recognised symptoms. So should I choose red?
If the rules for red banders are the default due to the law in my country and because green banders have to respect red banders’ right to distance, why do I need to show that I am red?
I would assess my own risk as being low and I would like to mix with friends but I live with someone who is high risk or who has chosen red band and I do not want to distance from them. What should I do?
I would choose green but I still want to occasionally visit my elderly relatives who are red and are particularly vulnerable.
I am in a vulnerable group but I do not want to be locked down/isolated. Even though the consequences could be severe, can I choose green?
Won't the health service be overwhelmed if enough people choose green band and then get sick enough to require hospitalisation? So by choosing green, wouldn't I still potentially be putting others at risk by contributing to an overwhelmed health service?
I'm OK with a very cautious unlocking of society but I feel like having lots of green band people would increase the risk to me really quickly.
I believe the detrimental effects of lockdown and distancing far outweigh any possible benefits. Won’t this system slow down our rate of returning to how things used to be?
Issues to consider
Your own health – if you are a younger person with no underlying health issues your risk of death from COVID-19 is very low. The risk of getting sick enough to require hospitalisation is higher but still very low. Indeed it seems that the majority of people infected are either mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic. However, the risk of severe illness/death increases dramatically for older groups and those with certain underlying health conditions. It also seems that your inherited genetic make-up is likely to affect your susceptibility and more data is emerging all the time. So everyone has a different risk profile. Low risk suggests green band, high risk red band.
Other people’s health – Although it does not have a fatality rate as frightening as many other diseases, one of the widely (but not universally) accepted features of this virus appears to be that it in the absence of controls, it spreads relatively quickly. This appears to be at least partly due to it being passed on by those who are not showing symptoms of infection themselves. That distinguishes it from many infections that we are used to dealing with, where the risk is more apparent and so can more easily be avoided. So the concern for many is not their own health, but the risk to the health of others, especially those who are in higher risk groups. Greenbandredband is an attempt to tackle this problem by respecting red banders’ right to distance. So the risk of passing on the virus is kept as low as possible for all red banders while green banders accept that they have a greater chance of getting infected because they have chosen to take that risk.
Overwhelmed health service – In the early stages of the disease, there was great concern that the health service in various countries would be overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. Indeed this appears to have occurred in certain regions for a period of time and it remains a concern in certain areas. The implications of this would be an inability to treat patients with COVID-19 and an unpalatable need to select between patients on the basis of likely survival. Non COVID-19 services would effectively have to be shut down resulting in more suffering and death. This is an outcome that no-one would want and is an argument in favour of red band. However, in the course of fighting the virus, many regions increased their health service capacity to deal with this potential eventuality. And increasingly, data and information is emerging to help us identify the people most likely to be admitted to hospital (see above) and mistakes regarding protection of people in high risk communities e.g. care homes are being recognised. So the adoption of green band by people in low risk categories – coupled with a desire to protect those in higher risk categories by respecting red band distance – would appear to carry a far lower risk to the health service than might have been the case at the outset of the virus.
Health workers exposed to high viral load – In addition to concerns about the health service being overwhelmed, there is the direct impact on the health of health workers, who could face a constant exposure to high doses of the virus if substantial numbers of COVID-19 patients were hospitalised. The argument would therefore be that by choosing green band one is not just risking one’s own health, but also the health of those who would be asked to care for a green bander who got sick. Some green banders might well be prepared to eschew any right to hospital treatment for COVID-19 in return for a return to the ‘old normal’. This is something which some societies may consider, but in most regions access to health care is not generally linked to lifestyle choices so it can be assumed that green banders would have a legitimate expectation of receiving hospital treatment. Green banders should therefore consider the data and information that exists regarding rates of infection and consequences of infection for their risk profile and the state of their health service, taking into account that improved protective equipment may now be available to health service workers compared to the initial weeks of the virus.
Overwhelmed critical apparatus of society – This is a similar argument to the health service. If too many people become sick then parts of supply or delivery chains that are considered essential may fail. Green banders will have to consider the actual risks of that occurring in their particular region and what level of sickness would be required for failures of that nature to become a reality.
Vaccine or medicine intervening – At time of writing there is no vaccine against Coronavirus and no medicine with established efficacy. Certain vaccine trials have produced encouraging results, but despite the unparalleled resources being dedicated to finding a ‘cure’ there is no guarantee that the emerging vaccines will be effective to prevent the spread of the virus, or how long they will be effective for. There will also be a significant logistical challenge rolling it out across the world. It appears that most governments are unwilling to wait for a vaccine to attempt to emerge from full lockdown. Instead there is a worldwide attempt to maintain or restore some form of life as we knew it prior to COVID-19, but with conditions imposed to limit or entirely prevent its spread. Whichever band you choose, greenbandredband can help that process. If and when effective medicine or vaccination becomes available, then to the extent that distancing still exists, the hopefully reduced impact of the virus might alter your assessment of risk considerably, enabling many who would have been red band to transition over to green.
Herd immunity – This is the concept that if a large enough number of the population become infected, recover, then are immune going forward and their immunity prevents them spreading the virus, then the virus will be prevented from spreading because it will hit a block of immune people who do not pass it on and so it will be stopped. Mass vaccination programs essentially seek to achieve the same goal in a more controlled fashion. Those who support trying to achieve herd immunity (even without a vaccine) are more likely to accept getting infection and therefore more likely to choose green band. Herd immunity is a controversial topic with very different percentages of immune people put forward as being required. It also relies on (a) infection leading to immunity post recovery and (b) immunity leading to an inability to spread the virus. While both assumptions are reasonable – even likely – on the basis of how other viruses behave, the effect of recovering from infection by this virus is yet to be conclusively established, and question marks remain as to what level of protection would be retained against new forms of the virus (the same issues as with vaccines).
The Economy – It seems clear that the lockdowns across the world have had a severe effect on economies across the world and that the effect is likely to be long lasting. At time of writing the vast majority of countries are attempting to move out of lockdown and so are taking steps to kickstart their economies, while forms of distancing are maintained. Whichever band you choose, greenbandredband helps with the release of lockdown, allowing governments to tailor their approach to the differing views of their people and allowing people to operate with more certainty and freedom around each other. Clearly green band allows a faster return to pre-Coronavirus practices but this will not be acceptable for all.
Other health – While Coronavirus has been an all-consuming focus, it is clear that lockdown has had a detrimental effect on the mental and physical health of large numbers of people. As explained above, greenbandredband provides a helpful way to navigate the process of easing restrictions. Even if hospitals are now able to help people with other physical health issues, continued distancing will still pose well-being issues for many. Adaptation to continued distancing would be particularly hard on children for instance or on those reliant on group or close contact activities for recreation. For those individuals or groups green band may be more appropriate.
Personal immunity – As more people realise that they have had the virus and recovered, or that they were asymptomatic, there is an increasingly important question as to how the bodies of those individuals would react to further exposure to the virus, and particularly whether they can be re-infected or spread the virus to others in the future. With many viral infections an immunity to further infection is acquired after recovery from the initial exposure and it is hoped that this is the case for Coronavirus as well but at this stage it is simply not known what level of immunity would result from the initial exposure/recovery or how long lasting any immunity would be. It also seems to be the case that new forms of the virus can emerge, which may mean that exposure to a previous strain does not offer full protection.
The role of face coverings – There are many different types of face covering, and potentially substantial differences between the effects of the different types in terms of filtration of viral particles. The cloth mask, which covers the nose and mouth, and can be purchased or made at home, is the most common of these. Generally a multi-layer mask is recommended for superior filtration. These types of masks are still unlikely to offer the same level of filtration as higher grade medical masks. Many regions have recommended or mandated the use of the more available types of face covering for the public in certain circumstances or areas. As with much of the Coronavirus science, there are widely differing views as to the effectiveness of these face coverings. Those who advocate their use, generally do so primarily to reduce the risk of transmission from the wearer. So it is seen as a means of protecting others more than oneself, although to to the extent viral load for the wearer is reduced, some protection for the wearer may also exist. The majority of public health advice remains that distancing is a superior protection against large droplet transmission than a face covering. However, where distancing is impractical, many regions are recommending or mandating face coverings as a means of mitigating the increased risk of transmission due to lack of distance. Other regions have recommended or mandated face coverings as a means of reducing transmission by aerosolised particles. This has lead to rules requiring the use of face coverings in certain places, even where distance can be maintained. Green band wearers will need to consider how to best mitigate the risk of aerosol transmission when respecting the wishes of red banders in each context.