If it’s infeasible to literally stamp it out everywhere (which I’ve heard), then you basically want to either delay long enough to have a vaccine
South Korea, Singapore, Italy
or have people get sick at the largest rate that the healthcare system can handle.
We’re running an interesting experiment to see which approach works. One potential benefit is that the world will be able to observe which of the two strategies is viable and switch between them, at least theoretically. Practically, switching from ‘suppress/contain’ to ‘flatten curve’ seems a lot more feasible than the alternative of trying to suppress after not taking tough measures, as the UK will have to do if its strategy means cases grow out of control. South Korea could still try to use curve-flattening as a backup plan.
However, for the reason given in the blog post, suppression will be a viable backup even if switching from curve-flattening to suppression is intrinsically harder than the other way round.
The interventions of enforced social distancing and contract tracing are expensive and inevitably entail a curtailment of personal freedom. However, they are achievable by any sufficiently motivated population. An increase in transmission *will* eventually lead to containment measures being ramped up, because every modern population will take draconian measures rather than allowing a health care meltdown. In this sense COVID-19 infections are not and will probably never be a full-fledged pandemic, with unrestricted infection throughout the world. It is unlikely to be allowed to ever get to high numbers again in China for example. It will always instead be a series of local epidemics.