A Research Futures webinar with Professor Gordon Blunn

5 min read

Hosted by Professor Gordon Blunn

On the basis of evidence from South Korea, where stringent measures has prevented the spread of corona virus to a relatively low level, massive population spread, at least in the short term, is not inevitable. Germany, which uses the South Korean model of widespread testing, traceability and isolation has a lower COVID 19 death rate compared to the UK.

The antithesis of this approach is the development of so called ‘herd immunity’ where the spread of the virus is less restricted leading to many more individuals with COVID19, a overburdened health system and substantially more deaths.

Provided that the virus behaves in a similar way to other diseases, those that survive after having COVID 19 would have a degree of immunity which effectively means that they could return to their normal life.

However this is a new disease; there is anecdotal information that some individuals can catch the disease more than once. In addition, tests to indicate that a person is immune are not yet available and in fact the antibody tests that are being developed are not an indication of a person’s resistance to the disease, simply that they have caught the virus. Scientists are not sure how long immunity will last. Whilst the development of a safe vaccine is progressing at a pace never before seen it still will be a number of months before one is available.

So there is a dilemma between staying home and in comparative isolation which of course benefits the health of the community but is restrictive and a move to a more relaxed attitude where the spread of the virus would be reliant on the development of herd immunity.

Comparative isolation does of course have an effect on the economy, mental health of the population and on other medical conditions. In the United States there are demonstrations about the lockdown. Those taking to the streets say that the stringent measures restricting movement and businesses are an over-reaction and hurting citizens, citing infringements on civil liberties.

In this webinar, Professor Gordon Blunn will discuss where the balance is between the two extremes? Your opinion about where this balance lies will probably depend on a number of factors such as your age, caring for other individuals and of course your work and profession.