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The Imminent Second Wave

As we approach what in retrospect, we might call the ‘middle phase’ of the Covid 19 episode, (the first being the initial lock down followed by the second, the relaxing of restrictions and an inevitable second wave of questionable size and the third phase the adoption of the disease into normal living and infections) a number of paradoxes, problems, ironies and fallacies have become apparent.

The first fallacy, perhaps born of the grinding tedium of restrictions, is an optimism that the worst is over, just look at the Bournemouth¹ beach ‘major incident’ and the wilful disregard for distancing in some pubs; it may or may not be.

The Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University published ‘Covid 19, Epidemic Waves, dated 30th April 2020’ ² the authors noted the following concerning previous episodes:

  • The last five outbreaks, since 1957-58, occurred in the space of two years.

  • Five outbreaks are described as having a second phase

  • 2009-10 had two mild phases.

  • 2002-2003 had several phases that occurred within one year.

  • 1957-58 had two phases that were equally severe;

  • 1889-92 and 1918-20 had two phases with the latter being described as more severe.

Thus, whilst it could conceivably get worse nothing is certain and they concluded that, ‘our understanding of this new agent is in its infancy we think preparedness planning should be inspired by robust surveillance, the flexibility of response and rigid separation of suspected or confirmed cases’.

The resultant paradox is that few companies, despite having gained an involuntary understanding of epidemiology, are planning to hold an exercise to anticipate a second phase which as in the last two examples above was worse than the first.

We suggest that such an exercise would demonstrate prudence and foresight and we are well placed to assist with such an exercise.

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