Covid-19 Introduction

“Environment, health and well-being” is an important component of the A-level syllabus and the on-going Covid-19 pandemic is likely to be a significant part of A-level Geography studies for many years to come. I’ve therefore added a simple epidemic modelling simulation to this site so that you can get a better feel for the factors that will control the future progress of this very damaging episode in humanity’s on-going battle against disease.

Covid-19 Simulation at startup

My simulation is based upon a widely used mathematical model of epidemics known as the SIR-model (short for Susceptible, Infected and Recovered). You can read more about this in the FAQs that can be accessed from the “Covid-19” menu above. My model is much simpler than the simulators being used by governments to aid their attempts to control the outbreak. In particular, the simple SIR model does not include spatial factors. It treats the whole population as if they are all in one place and all identical and so a farmer isolated on Orkney is treated identically to a nurse treating Covid-19 patients in central London. It also has a series of assumptions which may not be correct, such as an assumption that recovered patients are immune to further infection.

So, this page needs a health warning. You should “stay home, protect the health services and save lives” but you should also treat the predictions of my simulation program with extreme caution.

Despite my simplifications, the model seems to do a reasonable job of reproducing progress of the epidemic in the UK so far. I’m therefore confident it can be used for two, purely educational, purposes:

  1. You can play “what if” games. For example, what would have happened if the UK lock-down had been imposed a day or two earlier? The result may surprise you! And what will happen if social distancing is relaxed too much in the coming months?
  2. You can improve understanding of the important factors controlling the epidemic. Why does uncertainty about the fatality rate matter so much? What is this “Ro” that everyone is talking about and why is it so important?

To run it, just click on “Simulation” in the “Covid-19” menu above.