THE WORLD IN 2020

Written by Pascal Senn, Academic Events Officer

The Vice-Chancellor recently addressed our community of students, faculty, and staff via video message, highlighting the importance for us to keep in touch in light of the unprecedented circumstances. In the Student Union, we are innovating ways which facilitate the continued connection of our community from afar. We are implementing new initiatives which help to sustain our work of representing the interests/concerns of our students, and improving their experience, in the digital domain. In this article we have compiled a few media extracts to engage you, in a community-wide conversation about the impact of COVID-19. We want to hear how it has affected your life, what you do to cope with these changes, and what your hopes are for the future.

In considering the extent to which COVID-19 has irrevocably changed lives around the world in the first quarter of 2020 already, our lives will likely continue to be defined by this pandemic for years to come. In current medical research on COVID-19, the development of a vaccine is the undisputed priority. However, indications by the World Health Organisation (WHO), international governments, and leading epidemiologists would suggest that even a conservative chronology for vaccine development could take 18 months. It has historically taken medical researchers years to develop vaccines for comparable respiratory illnesses or in some cases, no vaccine was ever developed. In order to comprehend what vaccine development actually entails, a short video from Gates Notes helps to understand the basics.

In considering the vast spread of the virus since its detection in early January 2020, one critical concern has emerged among experts in governments, businesses, and civil society. Vulnerable individuals in society, including especially in the developing world, would suffer disproportionate consequences, while concurrently lacking the necessary resources to contain the spread of the virus or indeed to hinder exponential loss of life.

In an initiative led by the Atlantic, in collaboration with Chatham House, Emerson Collective, and the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the Atlantic's Editor-in-Chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, discussed the immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its long-term implications with the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown.

In the months which have elapsed since Chinese authorities in the Hubei Province of China initially notified the international community of pneumonia cases of unknown etiology in the city of Wuhan, various other countries have been affected. In countries around the world varying degrees of restriction have been implemented on travel and social distancing, with outcomes arguably yet to be seen in complete effect. In order to understand the international disparities in strategy or efforts to curb the spread of this virus, the following graphic may help to illustrate the data.


Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford:


Stringency Index

Every country’s lockdown is different. The wide range of measures adopted by different governments poses a challenge to analysts who want to compare these policies over time or between countries. To enable such comparisons, a team at Oxford university’s Blavatnik School of Government is maintaining a database of pandemic-response policies and using it to derive an index of the measures’ overall stringency. More than 100 volunteer academics and students collate publicly-available information on government response measures, across nine policy areas. These are assigned stringency ratings which are then used to derive a composite score between 0 and 100. Most other efforts to track the pandemic response take the form of lists of events without attempting to create comparable measures across countries. The Oxford team is not currently collecting any sub-national data, meaning that the index does not perfectly capture local measures in large or federal countries, including the US. A measure only in force in one or two regions contributes less to the stringency index than a nationwide policy, but rules in force in only one or two regions can also inflate a whole country’s overall score.

This blog post will be incrementally updated with new content. If you have come across insightful articles or videos which could engage our community, please send your findings to suacademicevents@regents.ac.uk.

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