When an outbreak occurs, the FIRST thing you need to do is isolate it. “Lockdown” is one, usually effective way to do this. It should be undertaken along with tracing to determine whence it originated and who might be susceptible. Until those are determined, the only way to stop the spread is isolation. Full stop.
Innoculation (whether by vaccine or exposure) is, in a sense, a form of isolation. Vaccines, however, take YEARS to develop. The vaccine itself may take relatively little time (months or even weeks) to create in a lab. Determining whether it is safe enough, and effective enough to distribute to everyone is what takes the bulk of that time. With CoVID-19, exposure and infection can result in serious illness and death, and it is not yet clear that any immune response the body may have developed to fight it will last more than a year. Someone once infected could in theory be infected again.
Even after that is determined, a manufacturing process that can produce billions of doses will not be set up overnight. You’ll read of companies that are doing this now. This does not mean a vaccine is imminent; it’s simply smart logistics, not waiting until the last minute to set up and test the process so that it will be ready once the (safe, effective) vaccine is available.Do NOT expect a vaccine to be available within the next two years, in spite of all the hyperventillating stories you read or hear. There is a slim chance it could be ready sooner. SLIM.
The best thing we can do right now to avoid general lockdowns is come up with inexpensive tests that do not need to be adminstered or evaluated by a medic. These tests exist today.
They are called ANTIGEN tests. Currently they cost between $5 and $10 each, as opposed to PCR tests which cost $30 or more each. Antigen tests can be as simple as a card you lick or spit on, wait 15-20 minutes, and see if the card changes color. Depending on the color, the test will tell you if you are negative, or if further testing is needed.
Here’s the thing: antigen tests have a relatively high false positive rate, whereas PCR testing gives a very low false positive. In other words, if a PCR test says you have CoVID-19, you very likely (almost certainly) do have it. On the other hand, a positive result on an antigen test may mean you have it, but there’s at least a 10% chance you don’t. BUT — the antigen tests are at least as good at telling you you DO NOT have CoVID-19 as PCR tests are at telling you you do have it.
So, you distribute these cards widely, and freely — to everyone. Each day, you wake up, spit on the card, wait 20 minutes. If the card doesn’t change (or the change indicates you don’t have it, you go on about your day. If the card indicates you may have it, you (and whoever you’ve had contact with who is likewise not testing negative will go get a PCR test to confirm whether or not you really have CoVID-19. If it turns out you DO have it, you go into quarantine and start getting immediate treatment to lessen (and hopefully shorten) the disease’s impact on you. No further locking down of entire cities would be required.
To do this requires governments doing what we create them and elect them to do: manage our common resources for the benefit of all. Orginsing the resources necessary to do this is something government should be doing. Spending money to make those testing cards freely available to everyone is something government should be doing. That is what government can do to keep the economy going and maintain a semblance of “normalcy”, and avoid or altogether eliminiate the need for widespread lockdowns.