Social Distancing Demonstration

This little demonstration is designed to be used while talking about the concepts of social distancing (behavioural changes, self isolation, avoiding large gatherings etc.) and governmental intervention whereby a population is effectively in lockdown.

The initial white curve shows an epidemic caused by a novel virus introduced into a completely susceptible population. The horizontal axis represents time and the vertical axis represents the number of people infected.

The top of the lighter area represents the limit of our healthcare services. If the number of people infected is in the darker area it means that our healthcare services are overloaded by the fraction of infected people needing care.

Without social distancing or governmental intervention our healthcare services can be massively overloaded as shown.

The first slider shows how increasingly active social distancing practices undertaken early and consistently thereafter can spread the load on our healthcare services.

The second slider shows how additional temporary governmental intervention can further reduce the load on our healthcare services and delay much of the epidemic until a vaccine can be developed. The position of the slider changes the time at which the intervention is deployed.

The model does not show it, but a vaccine could eliminate the delayed epidemic entirely if available early enough and if effective in terms of targetting and seroconversion.

The timing of any intervention is critical because it must happen during the steepest section of the curve. If a vaccine is not available the delayed epidemic can also overload our healthcare services and further periodic interventions may be needed as necessary.

The third slider simply moves the healthcare threshold.

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