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Coronavirus isn’t dangerous for me so I’m not worried.
And anyway, the chance I’ll actually get it are super small.
These seem like 2 of the most common reasons I hear for why someone isn’t doing much
about Covid19.
I want to convince you both those reasons make no sense and that staying home is an
effective thing to do so you really should if you can.
I finished filming this before the news that the US government now recommends no more than
10 people to be in the same place.
I think this is excellent news and I’m really really relieved to hear it.
I hope other countries follow suit.
The rest of this video will explain why I think you should follow this advice, whether
you’re in America or not.
It is true that, if you’re young and healthy, your own chances of death from this disease
are low.
But let’s say you were to get sick.
At the current rate you’re likely to spread it to 2 or 3 people.
Are the people you’re in regular contact with all healthy too?
Perhaps they are, but remember, each of them will spread it to 2 or 3 more people, and
they each spread it to 2 or 3 themselves and so on.
There are going to be vulnerable people fairly close to you that that virus reaches directly
because you got sick; an elderly person, someone with diabetes, someone who has chronic respiratory
For me, this would be my grandma, my dad, and my cousin and looking at those death probabilities
for people I care about makes it real for me.
And remember each of the people you might spread the virus to has their own people to
be worrying about as well.
If you reduce the number of people you infect, that has a huge positive ripple-on effect.
You are directly responsible for the lives of people, some you know, many who you don’t.
But, maybe you don’t think you’re likely to get the disease at all, so it doesn’t
At the moment in the USA the number of confirmed cases is only a few thousand, compared to
a population of a few hundred million.
So I agree, those odds are still very good, but they’re changing super fast.
Even a week ago, coronavirus didn’t seem anywhere near as bad as it does now, right?
Honestly, I was surprised at that too, until I stopped to do a little calculation.
You’ve probably heard the number of cases being reported daily in the news.
But those numbers aren’t so important.
What’s important is the answer to this question:
How long does it take for the number of cases in your country to go up by a factor of 10,
so to get 10 times bigger?
For example, there are roughly 5,000 cases in the USA right now (March 17th).
How much longer until you have 50,000 cases?
A couple of months maybe?
A few weeks?
That’s not it.
If things keep following the same trends in the USA, the number of cases goes up by a
factor of 10 in around one week.
So if nothing changes, next week it’s 50,000, more than the number in Italy right now.
In two weeks it would be 500,000, and in just 3 weeks it would 5 million.
It’s a similar rate of growth in most other countries that haven’t yet taken drastic
measures like lockdowns.
If you remember no other statistic from this video, just remember this one: if we don’t
take drastic measures, the problem gets 10 times worse in a week, every single week.
If people are still allowed to go outside freely for example like in these countries
right now, and if this roughly the number of cases there now, next week you will have
10 times that, and again the week after, and again.
But it doesn’t need to be this way.
Our main focus needs to be on increasing this time from a week to much longer so the spread
is slower.
For example, Italy was until it’s lockdown at a similar rate, 10 times worse in 1 week,
but has now slowed that time to about 17 days.
We have to accept that the disease likely still spread widely, but we want it to be
as slow motion as we can manage.
That might sound like a stupid idea, I mean why drag out the inevitable?
Well, hopefully you’ve seen this brilliant inforgraphic from doctor Siouxsie Wiles that
explains it.
If the number of cases keeps rising this fast, we will have a lot of cases all at once and
Then there will be way more sick people then hospitals can treat at once.
For example, in the USA there’s only about 350 thousand spare beds at a time for coronavirus
patients- that’s not even close to enough and hospitals will be totally swamped if things
keep going like this.
Once that happens, doctors will have to start choosing who should live because not everyone
can be cared for.
On the other hand, if we can seriously slow the disease spread then there’s way less
people sick at the one time and we might just have enough healthcare to go around.
This isn’t hypothetical either.
You might have heard that the death rate of Covid 19 is less than 1%, but that’s in
places where everyone can still get treatement.
In the places that have been overwhelmed, the death rate is more like 3-5%, but it might
become even much higher if a healthcare system is truly overworked.
This is why we need to slow it down, because we don’t want to be in the position that
1 in 20 people who get sick die, not because they had to, but because we didn’t have
the resources to save them.
So how can we slow the spread?
Here’s a useful simulation from the Washington Post that explains it.
Here the blue dots represent healthy people, but brown dots represent people with the virus.
When an infected person comes into contact with someone else, they will spread the virus
to them.
When a person with the virus recovers, they become purple to show that they can no longer
infect or be infected.
Let’s see what happens when everyone is allowed to mingle freely, like they still
are in a lot of places.
As you can see, very very quickly, there’s a huge number of people sick at the same time.
This is when hospitals will be jammed and doctors are working until they collapse or
get ill.
How can we slow it down?
Well, what if we ask everyone to stay home if they can?
Limit contact with others as much as possible?
Let’s simulate this by getting most of these dots to stop moving to represent people staying
at home.
There will still be some people who can’t, for example because they can’t work from
These people who are moving are still able to spread the disease, but see how slow that
spread is now?
There’s way fewer people sick at any one time.
There’s 2 main reasons staying at home like this works:
Your probability of getting sick is much lower, since you’re not meeting infected people
as much and if you do get sick, you’re not so likely
to see someone else and give it to them.
This is social distancing and it saves lives.
Companies can save lives by asking employees to work from home if possible.
Universities and schools can save lives by having classes remotely or by simply shutting
Religious leaders can save lives by asking their congregation to pray from home rather
than gathering.
Event organizers can save lives by cancelling matches and festivals.
And governments can save lives by making all of this mandatory.
And you can save lives too- by avoiding nonessential gatherings, even things like going to dinner
with friends.
Especially if you have the most common symptoms like a fever or a dry cough, you will be likely
to save lives by isolating yourself.
But let me be clear, you should stay home even if you aren’t sick.
Over 20% of infections come from people without symtoms yet.
From people who think that they’re fine and so continue to go about their lives meeting
others and inadvertantly making them sick.
These are all the reasons social distancing makes sense, but I know it’s tough.
You’re probably thinking you’ll go insane if you have to spend so much time alone.
There are things you can do though to make it easier.
Firstly, call your family, friends and colleagues for no reason but just to chat.
For example, the place where I am going to start a job soon is now completely working
from home- but they have video calls at lunch so everyone can still eat together virtually.
It’s important to talk to someone at least once a day, so call your friends.
Secondly, look after your physical health too.
You only need to avoid people, not daylight so you can still go out for walks.
Lastly, try keep yourself productively occupied in your spare time so it doesn’t feel wasted.
There’s only so many movies you can watch before you get frustrated that you’re not
doing anything.
Take this as your chance to learn that thing you want to learn, or to read more, or to
finish one of your projects.
I’m going to link a bunch of online resources that I personally like that you can do for
free in your extra hours.
The point is this though: staying inside will save lives, so thank you for looking out for
others by doing this.
But look after yourself too- keep yourself from going crazy, Good luck!