Coronavirus: How scared should we be?

Prof Devi Sridhar, chair of global public health at Edinburgh University, says the question we should be asking is whether we are “safe enough”.She was referring to the row over schools, but the concept can equally be applied to many other scenarios.There are two factors that influence the risk we face from coronavirus – our risk of becoming infected and, once infected, our risk of dying or becoming seriously ill.If we are not in hospital or a care home our best guide to the risk of infection comes from the government’s surveillance programme run by the Office for National Statistics. The hope is that level of infection will reduce even further in time if the government’s test, track and trace programme keeps the virus suppressed.What is remarkable about coronavirus is that if we are infected our chances of dying seems to mirror our chance of dying anyway over the next year, certainly once we pass the age of 20. As for children, the risk of dying from other things – cancer and accidents are the biggest cause of fatalities – is greater than their chance of dying if they are infected with coronavirus.

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