Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

How individuals respond to government advice on preventing the spread of COVID-19 will be at least as important, if not more important, than government action, according to a new commentary from researchers at the University of Oxford and Imperial College London in the UK, and Utrecht University and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands.

Washing hands with soap and water

As the UK moves into the “delay” phase of dealing with a possible COVID-19 epidemic, a new commentary, published today in The Lancet, looks at what we know so far about the new virus. The researchers, led by Professor Sir Roy Anderson at Imperial College and Professor Deirdre Hollingsworth at the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute (Nuffield Department of Population Health / Nuffield Department of Medicine), also suggest what can be done to minimise its spread and its impact.

Professor Hollingsworth said: ‘Completely preventing infection and mortality is not possible, so this is about mitigation. Our knowledge and understanding of COVID-19 will change over time, as will the response. High quality data collection and analysis will form an essential part of the control effort. Government communication strategies to keep the public informed will be absolutely vital.’

Vaccine development is already underway, but it is likely to be at least a year before a vaccine can be mass-produced, even assuming all trials are successful. Social distancing is therefore the most important measure, with an individual’s behaviour key. This includes early self-isolation and quarantine, seeking remote medical advice and not attending large gatherings or going to crowded places. The virus seems to largely affect older people and those with existing medical conditions, so targeted social distancing may be most effective.

Read more on the Big Data Institute website

Similar stories

Eoghan Mulholland receives prestigious Lee Placito Research Fellowship

Awards and Appointments General

Dr Eoghan Mulholland has received the prestigious Lee Placito Research Fellowship in Gastrointestinal Cancer. Eoghan will use this 3-year position to research cell interactions in colorectal cancers.

Eleven Oxford professors honoured by the Academy of Medical Sciences

Awards and Appointments General

The Academy of Medical Sciences has elected 11 University of Oxford biomedical and health scientists to its fellowship.

3,400 different medicines used globally to treat COVID-19

Coronavirus COVID-19 General Research

Insufficient data, and misleading recommendations led to significant early heterogeneity in global COVID-19 patient management, according to recent BMJ study.

Children and Adolescents’ Mental Health: One Year On

Coronavirus COVID-19 General Research

Parents and carers reported that behavioural, emotional and attentional difficulties in their children changed considerably throughout the past year, increasing in times of national lockdown and decreasing as restrictions eased and schools reopened, according to the latest Co-SPACE (COVID-19 Supporting Parents, Adolescents, and Children in Epidemics) study, led by experts at the University of Oxford.

Tackling climate concerns through sustainable healthcare

General

A new initiative by Oxford Medical Students and faculty is accelerating the learning of sustainable healthcare at Oxford.