Listen: Rules of contagion - meet a mathematician at the frontline of the COVID-19 fight
"Decision makers and then they can take those bits of evidence and decide what they want to do. Based on the scientific consensus about how long different things may need to be in place. What reduction we think they might generate. But it's very tempting sometimes to put measures in place the somewhat cosmetic that look like you're doing something but there's no evidence that actually effect you think having I think that's why it's really boots to base decisions on available evidence and I think also at the moment we're seeing for example in a number of countries saying that got put in a two week set of interventions and then somehow give pressure. They can lift them. Go back to normal. I think in some way I we've had these measures have been placed stringently for two months and so I think we need to be Kafue in in London. What's available in terms of of what we're proposing as tempting? The tuition might be that we just shut down. We imagine it will be fixed. The achieve Denise look the dates a there will potentially going to be in a month Lucy. What should we imagine in terms of a timeline? Because there's nothing decide that covered non white return to those communities that were affected in China? Yeah this thing is is is Evelyn world is probably GONNA be circulating released a Yale today so I think we have to. Wherever we do plan under the assumption that we're GONNA be facing incoming cases of By period of time I think if ability to test and contained is dramatically improved than as soon as those measures lifted. And we get more. Introductions will at risk of new outbreaks again because we haven't built much Population is high Ability is really still the case the potentially off a few weeks maybe a month or two. We'll be back in the situation. We were so does it all come down to tasting testing testing as ahead of the World Health Organization rated. That's incredibly important part of the public health response. I think knowing not just testing centers. Why you all with? The outbreak boosted being identified at risk is important. But I don't think that alone as it stands even in places that doing very well at single is going to be sufficient because we have seen pacing bull and career that I'll continuing cases Singapore getting more more imported cases having Implementable control measures. So testing is the which is has Essential. But it's not GonNa be simple quick fix. I think anyone saying what do what. Singapore don will fix it in all countries a Singapore and no countries are gonNA be able to reproduce exactly the same situation in they do the evidence from Asia suggested other things might be considered as well so I think we have to learn a lot. We HAVE TO GET HIS TESTING PLACE. But we equally have to be aware that it's potentially would we all going to have to make some changes or lifestyle as well a low of what we think the obvious solutions indicative of the obvious conclusions to make about disease on correct because we have seen diseases being Radical we've seen diseases being controlled with oxygenation. We see somebody's control measures which people might not think. Walk keeping disproportionately affected of some diseases around the world. What do you mean by via strategies that people climb will be catious but are actually not one? I've seen a law is reflected. I think communication gravy. Is this idea that we look down for a couple of weeks and then Everyone stays home and then Everyone who's infectious by that point would had symptoms. And then you buy into two weeks. No one else is spreading. We can if it but it's too pretty fundamental assumptions. That one is the every single in your docs themselves in their houses. She literally everybody which obviously we have key services thing that we have to do that with the only thing I ignored is delays infection household size. If you have a household of fool people IDA potentially takes a week or so when fashion to the next you could actually have a few weeks infections sustained within larger households and so this two week idea which might intuitively make sense as soon as actually you just drew out simple chain of transmission in a larger household. You realize that idea breaks down very quickly is and then there's misunderstandings about when the kind of mathematics have heard immunity the immunity gets communicated to the public and certainly that was in the early stage. Better way go two weeks ago the. Uk's saying that they were going to rely on her immunity in the absence of a vaccine will. That's highly dangerous. That means many thousands of people could die. Yeah and I was frustrated. Radio uncomfortable that that messaging in was coming out that that was being Quoted somehow strategy was to sit back and do nothing. Both with that was that was incredibly dangerous. Messaging given a law capable at the time. Fill the this is just a bad flu we should get over with. I think that message plays into that but USA because modeling in a lot of the scenario is even if we have these measures in place it could end up with people infected and so really a consequence Anything we do could end up with with nausea infected by Henson needs building. But that's not the aim of this strategy. It's just the consequence that we we have this infection. We can't fully control. We call down forever that the party has to be to the Mongol. Now th- Cox People get the treatment. They need yeah exactly news. I mean you'll use even using data to forecast critical care bed requirements in the UK. So it's on every front. You're using maths to help us. Navigate this virus. You'll rot at the front line of this pandemic crunching numbers in real time. How do you do with the anxiety of the moment? The amount of coming in you have to react quite quickly It doesn't clean as as as you're doing it at the have been suddenly moments way. It's hit all of us. We had meetings weapon have just come out looking at the geist because for example Six weeks ago way. You know you start to get sensible case. Scenario is looking like another member. Seeing somebody data on how much transmission was Will Muslims before Simpson's appeared? I'd just remember just being completely on thinking. This is GonNa be so so schools control and as just seeing all of those examples that you give hypothetically into of as a hypothetical future virus that might be difficult to deal with and just say not pay out. I think on everyone working on Mrs is incredibly tough. I think we'll said now you're seeing senior Health Housework is is just everyone. Yeah something we really need to detect Strength everyone in this field seeing the public not responding to this with the seriousness does well. How do we change that? I think one of the toughest things about this virus is the delay between infections. Echoing and severe outcomes no baby scientists so I didn't know exactly the best ways that Putting measures in gay people to take this the state officials of forcing them to and find into many countries selling to do. But the challenge is because you have these delays by the time. You're getting hostile sterling up and that's rising that transmission happened three weeks ago so as soon as you hospital was filled up. Even if you compete in shutdown you've tweaks transmission is already happened. Woody GONNA emerge the next couple of weeks into the system. And I think that's is that this is very tough because the Nikkei now the paces in law the public have been thinking couple weeks ago. Hoti any cases. What's the fuss about? I'm not really very far. Detached from the underlying we're facing according to your forecast will country lot your own. Uk have enough critical. Care beds to mate Nayed. I think we're GONNA within the next week to see really. I'm heavy demand placed on on manage services particular critical beds. My hope is the year. There's been enough reduction. Transmission Love in the last couple of weeks to slow down to make it manageable but I think potentially Out over the and that suggests that we could be seeing in space for cooperative weeks. Equalize numbers requiring it. And we don't want to say what what happened in Italy images coming in footage coming out of Italy's horrendous Will Adam. Congratulations on the work. Thank you so much for doing it on all. Have a half and thank you for being my first guest in my home studio here. Thank you associate professor Adam Kucharski? He's from the London School of Hygiene and tropical medicine and I was really struck by a quote in his book by the Great Innovator in infectious disease control the nurse and statistician Florence Nightingale. She said the Snyder is the same everywhere. And never permit to laws to be disregarded with impunity something to think about in this time of viral pandemic the rules of contagion why things spread and why stop is published by Ellen Annan and they tell me. They're working hard to get copies of his book to Australia. So let support our local Australian booksellers right now. Hi there doing it tough on the Tesha Mitchell talk to me on twitter at Natasha Mitchell and subscribe to the ABC's Corona cast. Podcast with Dr Norman Swan and taken Taylor until next show take care. Stay Safe Cape self-isolating. You've been listening to an ABC podcast. Discover more great. Abc. Podcasts live radio and exclusives on the ABC Listen Up.."