Is Lockdown Working?

We have now (15/4/2020) been in lockdown for just over three weeks. Because of the natural dynamics of the virus, we should not have expected to see clear evidence of success (or failure) in the first couple of weeks. But three weeks is long enough to ask the question – so what is the answer? […]

First thoughts on How to End Lockdown Safely

There are already many calls to unlock the economy quickly. And it is clear that these are dangerous. But economic damage from the lockdown is huge and the alternative is not clear. Indeed some studies, correctly pointing out that a short lockdown would not be enough, have given the impression that there is no alternative […]

Understanding the Coronavirus

If mathematicians have one tiny fault – a point which I am not ready to concede – it is that they are entirely unintelligible. If you ask a mathematician to explain the spread of the coronavirus, they may say things like, “well, with a simple SIR model, you can just solve the differential equations, ds/dt […]

Austerity: Why We Shouldn’t Watch the Sequel

We have nothing to fear but fear itself. Franklin D Roosevelt, Inaugural Address.   We recently set out a three-point plan for Mr Johnson in which the first stage is a rigorous lockdown in order to save lives during the corona virus outbreak, the second stage is a managed rebound to ensure that the economy […]

Are We Nearly There Yet?

Until the Imperial College Covid-19 Group published their report last Monday, the strategy of the government was laissez-faire. The government’s Chief Scientific Adviser explained that this was in order to build-up herd immunity in the UK population. The Imperial College Report made clear to journalists and to the public something that should have been clear […]

A Three-Point Plan for Economic Recovery

Any general who goes into battle without a plan is doomed to fail. Any general who sticks to his plan is doomed to fail.   Attributed to Napoleon In its approach to tackling the coronavirus, the UK government has finally – following the Imperial College report – moved away from the herd-immunity or laissez-faire strategy. […]

The Great Anglo-Saxon Health Experiment

All models are wrong, but some are useful. George Pelham Box   The US and the UK are both in the process of reviewing their strategies in response to the coronavirus. On March 13 2020, President Donald Trump moved from his previous policy of dismissing the threat from the virus to announcing a state of […]

The Great British Health Experiment

All models are wrong, but some are useful. George Pelham Box This is an update on the previous post about the virus. It is based on a slightly more sophisticated model which better captures the impact of different rates of infection and on the Chief Medical Officer’s estimate of death rate. The message is the […]

Why We Can’t Get Our Minds Around Wealth Inequality

“An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.” — Plutarch We are used to inequality. There is inequality of height, weight, shoe size, intelligence – in fact every human characteristic you can think of. But most of these characteristics follow what is called a normal distribution, which […]