Can I encourage all who are in the UK to help with tracing COVID-19 outbreak?
Why is it important? My work is to try to predict how many people are likely to need intensive care in the days and weeks to come. This is essential for health authorities to be able to prepare enough beds, staff and equipment. We also look into the data to see whether the lockdown is indeed helping to slow down the spread, to predict how long we need to be in the isolation, or whether it is OK to relax the constraints on our lives. This is essential – each day of lockdown costs us millions of pounds and possible many livelihoods. On the other hand, if we relax them too early, we can get an even more damaging second wave.
The problem with our work is that we need to have as good information as possible about how many people are and are not infected. At the moment we are seeing only the “tip of an iceberg”. There are wild estimations of how many people are carriers and do not show any symptoms. We have little idea how many people are infectious but show only mild symptoms, and so do not bother with self-isolation. We do not know exactly how many people are starting having symptoms now and so will be coming to A&E in a few days time. Yet, having this information and having it as promptly as possible is vital.
It is also important to know who is still healthy, so if there are large pockets of the population that are not affected by the disease.
Our colleagues at King’s College London, Guys & St Thomas’ Hospitals and the NHS have come up with a simple mobile application that can be used to monitor symptoms. Please follow the link below, download the app and use it daily to tell us how you feel!
Many thanks in advance. I will keep you posted about this and other initiatives.