How Often Do You Use Math Each Day Survey Results Coronavirus – Prerequisites for Lifting Lockdown in the UK

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Coronavirus – Prerequisites for Lifting Lockdown in the UK

Living in west London during the lockdown imposed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak is a surreal experience. Normal existence as we knew it less than two months ago seems to have occurred in another lifetime. Some of the older ones lived through the nervous uncertainties of the Cold War and we all look with some trepidation at the imminent challenges posed by climate change. But this is something completely different.

As a 58-year-old diabetic man, my vulnerability to this virus is heightened. As is my son, who is asthmatic. None of us are among the 1.5 million most vulnerable as identified by the UK government, but we are open enough to the complications that we have voluntarily gone into more or less complete isolation, along with the rest of our household is supporting Various in-laws and outlaws seem to be doing their best to tempt us into the dangerous, but so far we’re holding our own.

Data readily available

I am not a virologist or an epidemiologist. I’m not even a statistician. But I have an O level in Maths. And while this achievement is modest in the larger scheme of academia, it is enough to allow me to identify trends and draw conclusions from data that is readily available to anyone with an Internet connection and Google knowledge. That is why I shudder at the obvious bewilderment of many of those commentators who pass for experts.

Throughout its management of the crisis, my government has been keen to emphasize that it is “following the science”. Political spokesmen are invariably accompanied during briefings by medical and scientific advisers with considerable command and respect. And yet what passes for the best scientific advice one day often seems to fall by the wayside the next. So our initial reluctance to call off major sporting events was based on “scientific advice” that there was no evidence that large crowds of people crowded together presented an ideal environment in which a virus could spread, only because the advice contraries were issued barely once. a day or two later. Also pubs and restaurants. “Following the science” has even been proposed as an explanation for deficiencies in the provision of protective equipment to frontline workers and in testing capacity. One could be forgiven for wondering whether political policy was being informed by science, or vice versa.

long plateau

That was then. Today we are closed and the discussion has been about how we will get out. Inevitably, some very confused navel-gazing ensues when the great and the good, political and scientific, realize that a dynamic market economy cannot remain in suspended animation forever. So where does it all go from here?

If one wants to know what is likely to happen in the future, the past and indeed the present often serve as useful guides. And there is enough information to be found in the statistical data we have collected since the initial outbreak in Wuhan, through the pre-lockdown exponential increases in the number of infections and deaths and the more welcome signs that have more recently begun in emerge from Italy and Spain, to give us an idea of ​​where we are going.

First, the long plateau followed by a gradual decline in numbers reflects the less drastic approach of European democracies than that adopted by China. When the crisis comes there may be a price to pay for enjoying the benefits of a free and open society. In southern Europe, the decline from the “peak” of the outbreak is noticeably slower than the original rise. As the UK shutdown is less severe than even that of Spain or Italy, the unfortunate fact is that we can expect our recovery from this first peak, when it comes, to be even more laborious.

The reproduction number

The basic reproduction number is the mathematical term used by epidemiologists to quantify the infection rate of any virus or disease. Experts have calculated that, when unchallenged, the reproduction number (or R0) of Covid-19 is about 2.5. This means that each infected person will, on average, pass the virus on to 2.5 other people, resulting in an exponential spread.

Lockdowns, public awareness campaigns and social distancing measures aim to reduce the R0 below 1.0, thereby reducing the spread of the infection and ultimately stopping it. To induce a decline in infections as fast as a 2.5-fold increase, the number would need to be reduced to 0.4 (or 1 divided by 2.5). A preliminary study by a team at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has calculated that in the UK the current R0 for the virus is around 0.62, which, if accurate and as long as it holds, would mean that the virus will slow down, albeit at a slower rate than its original acceleration.

There is also more good news. British-American-Israeli Nobel laureate biophysicist Michael Levitt, who runs a lab at Stanford University in California, notes that the R0 of a virus naturally decreases over time because of the tendency of people to move within finite social circles, thus restricting more and more. the number of new contacts you will find. Along with a deliberate social distancing strategy, this will further reduce the spread.

Lifting of restrictions

So far so good, if anything can really be said to be good about a global pandemic that at the time of writing has already claimed the lives of more than a hundred thousand people. But the challenge now is how to lift restrictions and start to resume something even closer to normal without the rate of infections quickly rising again. Neither the needs of the economy nor human nature will allow life to stop indefinitely.

One imagines, or at least hopes, that any significant relaxation of restrictions will inevitably follow a reduction in new infections to a much more manageable number than is currently the case. When it does occur, however, the goal should be to keep new infections below R1. Failing that, a second wave is inevitable.

The lesson the initial spread of the virus taught us is puzzling. Then the contagion occurred in a city in a country far away from home, and yet in little more than a month it had broken out and engulfed the entire planet. Now, with 240 separate nations battling the virus at various stages of development, any measures any country takes to prevent it from returning within its borders would have to be extraordinary.

Learning from experience

On the other side of the coin we have at least in this short space of time acquired valuable knowledge and experience. When Western countries, with the partial exception of Germany, failed to test, track and locate the pathogen with sufficient rigor when it first fell upon us, we hope to be better equipped to do so the second time around. Mobile apps are already being developed to help us in this process, although it would be a denial of duty to allow our policy to rely solely on their use, to the exclusion of other complementary strategies.

It is envisaged that the limited travel that is allowed to resume between nations will be subject, at least for now, to testing passengers, including returning Britons, for the virus at the point of departure or entry, or the implementation of ‘a mandatory quarantine period for all travelers. Without such drastic action it is hard to see how a tracking and tracing program can hope to succeed.

More than anything else, it will require global cooperation and coordination at all levels. A global pandemic can only be effectively addressed through joint global strategic action. Even a rogue nation that refuses to play by the rules will risk jeopardizing each nation’s efforts.

Antivirals and vaccines

Ultimately, we can only contain the threat as best we can while waiting for a vaccine to arrive. Before that happens, though, it may be that antiviral drugs, whether new or repurposed, will be game-changers by allowing disease from infection to be treated before it becomes serious or even fatal. Removing the grim unpredictability of the Coronavirus will allow the world the luxury of enjoying something like a normal existence without too much fear.

The lifting of the blockade should be seen as the first stage of the end game, not as a poorly planned panic measure driven by the needs of the economy. Properly handled, it provides a second chance to fix the mistakes that allowed the virus to break out in the first place. Getting caught napping the first time was awkward, doing it again would be absolutely unforgivable.

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