Since mid-March, as a ‘hobby’ I have tried to use my fun in mathematics and modeling to get ‘some sort of grip’ on this Corona crisis (see evaluation of my predictions for the first five weeks). I realize very well that by putting in some evening hours I cannot eliminate the virus itself. But this hobby. activities gave me a sense of peace, because this made me think (think?) better about the situation in the future. I also know (rationally so) that there is and is not enough data to be able to make good and precise analyzes. But for this point my reply is: by combining various sources, understanding underlying mechanisms and knowing that there are different methods of measuring, you can still look ahead.
Where are we standing right now? The simplest answer: this peak is over! The flag can fly. So continue working fully, take a short holiday this summer, and only start again in the autumn (from week 45 of this year). Influenza and Corona is part of our society.
And what does this mean in concrete terms?
- We have taken too long and too severe measures from mid-April. The cost of this is at least 20 billion a month and perhaps a multiple. From mid-April-end-April, we could have weakened the measures taken by Rutte. I am convinced that we will conclude afterwards that the measures taken a) were not ideal and b) were far too expensive.
- I ‘believe’ in the hypothesis that a) it is very safe outside, b) being inside with many people who make a lot of noise (choirs, festivals, carnival and some large companies including festivals) is risky, c) that this corona virus is really not a harmless virus (because 5 to 10 times more deadly than a normal influenza virus).
- I ‘believe’ (actually: I calculate) that too few people have been (or have been) infected and that there is absolutely no group immunity yet. And I also have little confidence in the prediction that there will be a vaccine for all Dutch people within six months. I think we should take increased risks from week 45 into account, but not a second peak this summer.
- That we will live in an elevated state of preparedness for years to come. Nature has taught us a ‘lesson’. We still thought with swine fever or bird flu that it only concerned animals that infect each other; and at Q-choir we thought that citizens were ‘a bit’ offended ‘. And SARS and MERS was something for the Asians but not for the Europeans. Covid-19 has shown that with nearly 8 billion people living close to nature, we are at risk.
So back to normal? no, certainly not. The virus is still there, but we must stop panicking. With 7-9% infections in the Netherlands and a significant mortality risk for the vulnerable (IFR = 0.5 – 0.9), it is really advisable to remain cautious for the time being. I think that all corona viruses will become a ‘normal’ part of our society. Just like the annual influenza viruses. Coincidentally, it also seems to be the case that the influenza and corona season coincide: approximately from week 45 to week 16.
Creating a 1.5 meter economy is really going too far. But there are permanent measures that we will have to implement so that we learn to live with a ‘virus threat’. A society in which we respect bacteria and viruses, a society with a higher state of hygiene and cleanliness.
Which measures should we (or should we) take? I also think that these should be permanent measures in the coming years! Especially measures if you stay in the Netherlands for the period week 45 to week 16 of each year (the flu season). Some examples of permanent measures:
- Wash hands and keep a social distance (I deliberately do not mention a number, but think of a 0.5 to 1 meter, respect each other’s private space). Wearing face masks in public areas indoors (including public transport) is a social gesture, you say “I don’t want to infect anyone”. After all, you don’t want to infect anyone with other viruses, right ?!
- We stop hugging and kissing strangers, we don’t shake hands (unless disinfected first). The elf arch salute or greetings as the Japanese do, will become the new standard in the Netherlands and Europe.
- Do you have first symptoms of a cold (not hay fever!) Or illness? Go home, work quietly through there. It is not ‘tough’ to walk around sick at work.
- Traveling internationally? Yes you can, but with a yellow passport. Without a correct yellow passport you will not cross the Dutch border in the future. And we travel mainly when necessary, not just for fun.
- Companies with buildings where many people come must make a risk plan (such as HACCP). In short, an approach comparable to that which is common and mandatory for food-producing companies. And the management of the organization even becomes responsible (and as with food-producing companies). It’s crazy that wem.b.t. measures look to Rutte and RIVM.
- We will design our environment differently. Larger interior spaces, windows are open, lots of natural ventilation. We create healthy outdoor air and healthy indoor air. We use technology like UV and HEPA too. We no longer want fine dust, nitrogen emissions in our air. Electrification continues. Plant based foods too.
- Working from home and staying at home more often – for example, 20% to 60% of our time – is possible and saves a lot of transport time, CO2 emissions and traffic. Of course in coordination with your manager and other colleagues.
- We are going to place more emphasis on protecting the elderly and the vulnerable. As a society, we have not done so well now (see mortality of homes for old people). And don’t forget your own health: boost your own immune system by eating good food, preventing stress and exercising. Go outside often, and breathe in healthy outdoor air.
- An overcapacity on IC beds is necessary (3000-6000 beds for The Netherlands?) And a strong GGD that will take test-trace-isolate policy very seriously. And active monitoring RIVM is also part of that. Maybe we should see this as a necessary system of defense 2.0?
So will our society look different? Yes I think so, I think that my 4 predictions that I wrote for the VMT will come true. Dear readers, get back to work, go to work, do not be afraid (but also do not be naive), take care of yourself and your environment. I think we are going to create a new normal. But not one where we convulsively take that crazy 1.5 meter rule from RIVM as a starting point.