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This content is taken from the UNESCO UNITWIN Complex Systems Digital Campus & The Open University's online course, COVID-19: Pandemics, Modelling, and Policy. Join the course to learn more.

Conclusion to the Course

In this step we will review what has been done on the course over the last two weeks, and consider where to go next.

Review of Week 1

Step 1.3 collected some of the vital statistics of COVID-19 while Step 1.4 discussed transmission. Step 1.5 discussed crises in healthcare systems. The Kermac-McKendrick SIR model was presented in Steps 1.6 and 1.7 as the basis for discussing herd immunity and flattening the curve in Step 1.8. Herd immunity is usually most relevant to policy in the context of vaccination. Steps 1.9 and 1.10 summarised the Imperial College report and its impact. Step 1.11 considered policy makers’ common claim that they are driven by science. Steps 1.12, 1.13, 1.4 and 1.15 considered prediction and forecasting in policy making, noting that some systems are inherently unpredictable but useful things can be known about their future behaviour. Complex Systems Science was presented as a way ahead to support policymakers.

Review of Week 2

Week 2 focussed on modelling. We began by investigating the SIR curves using a computer model. This was followed by experimenting with Agent Based Models. We considered modelling at micro, meso and macro scales. We experimented with time series models and fitting curves to data. You were challenged to become a policy maker in the Face Mask exercise. The most important message to come from the WHO is Test-Test-Test as an essential part of their test, follow and isolate policy. We used a computer model to investigate this policy. The models used on this course are very simple, and we considered how real world modelling is based on the same principles but goes much further .

It has been a great pleasure working with so many engaged and interesting participants on the course. We thank you for joining us and being such excellent company.

Good luck to everyone - Jeff and the Team.

Where next?

If you are interested in Covid-19 FutureLearn has other courses that you may want to join. These include

COVID-19: Tackling the Novel Coronavirus

What is COVID-19 and how might the outbreak affect you? Find out more about coronavirus and explore its worldwide implications.

COVID-19 Critical Care: Understanding and Application Learn the principles and practice of critical care to treat and care for critically ill patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Managing COVID-19 in General Practise Get practical advice and support around how to respond to the novel coronavirus pandemic as a front-line healthcare

COVID-19: Diagnostics and Testing Get the latest recommendations on COVID-19 diagnostics and testing, and how to improve testing capacity in low-income settings.

See also

COVID-19: The facts Find the answer to common questions and concerns around the outbreak of the coronavirus.

What’s going to happen next?

20th May 2020

In the UK and in many other countries there are huge pressure to move out of lockdown. There is noticeably more traffic on the roads and it seems people are becoming less compliant in social distancing. Most people don’t wear face masks. Families are gaming the rules. A political argument is brewing on whether schools should reopen as normal in June (many schools remained open for the children of essential workers). And action towards test-track-trace is underway in the context of discussions on apps and recruiting a body of locally or nationally based trackers. We live in exciting times!

We will run the course for some months and during the next few weeks we will think about the questions

*when they are announced, will the Government’s lockdown policies work?

*what other policies could there be and what might be their outcomes?

  • how is COVID-19 likely to develop in the UK?

  • do infected people become immune or can they be reinfected?

  • will there be waves of infection over the next months?

We will use the models developed for this course and new versions for them as required. We will publish as much of this as we can within the course.

Hopefully some of you will want to stay with us to see how it develops. If so please come back to this page from time to time and we will list the steps that have new material. In this way you can be part of the evolving course community.

The next thing will be a new interactive agent-based simulation program to enable us to experiments with the possible outcome of policies coming out of lockdown.

The course will remain fully open for the foreseeable future.

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This article is from the free online course:

COVID-19: Pandemics, Modelling, and Policy

UNESCO UNITWIN Complex Systems Digital Campus