diamond geezer

 Tuesday, May 05, 2020

But how are you feeling?

Your outlook on the current pandemic is likely related to various factors, one of which is susceptibility.


Low risk of serious symptoms

Medium risk of serious symptoms

High risk of serious symptoms


If you're young you're unlikely to suffer too badly even if you do catch the virus. if you're elderly, or have underlying health conditions, this may very much not be the case. Crucially, in the absence of a vaccine these probabilities aren't going to be changing any time soon. Anyone in the red box is likely to be feeling more nervous than someone in the green, even as the overall number of cases comes down.

I think I'm in the yellow zone. At 55 I'm in the foothills of age-related risk, so the virus probably won't kill me but could still be damned unpleasant. I also note that the Prime Minister is the same age as me and he nearly succumbed, but he's also a few stone heavier, and basically you can't second guess this kind of thing. But being in the yellow box still focuses my lockdown outlook, and I've definitely adjusted my life accordingly.

Most of those in the green box are also behaving cautiously and responsibly, staying home to save the lives of others, but it must also be comforting to know that the virus isn't specifically targeting you. Meanwhile those in the red box will be trying to minimise social contact, even shielding themselves away, well aware of the potential consequences of a single unlucky encounter. As the country starts to consider easing out of lockdown, I expect the green to emerge before the red.

You'll be an A, a B or a C.

But that's by no means the only factor in play, for example there's also financial stability.








It's a lot easier to endure the ongoing economic hiatus if you have a steady income or sufficient wealth. It's much harder if the pandemic has kicked away the source of your income, or risks destabilising what you already have. It's harder still if you never had any money in the first place... or have unexpectedly found yourself in that position.

This time I'm fortunate enough to be in the green box. Unless something wholly unexpected happens, with ruinous consequences, I can sit back and ride this one out. Yes, I realise how incredibly fortunate this is. I know plenty of other people who've been knocked into yellow by the sudden disappearance of an income stream they hoped they could rely on but can no longer take for granted. With no end to this economic downturn in sight, the UK's new 'precariat' can only grow larger.

It'd be informative to consider susceptibility and stability together.
Risk of symptoms along the bottom, financial cushion up the side.

 s u s c e p t i b i l i t y

The sweet spot is bottom left, for those who don't really have to worry about hospitalisation or money. Where you don't want to be is top right, where money and health are both big issues. But it seems the virus is balancing the playing field a different way.

Those with the lowest risk from infection, the young, also tend to be those with the most insecure jobs, the highest rent and the fewest savings. Meanwhile those with the most regular income, especially those on pensions, are much more likely to be at greater risk from infection. Across Britain A3 and C1 will be a lot more commonplace than A1 or C3. Neither end of society is getting off lightly.

I feel very fortunate to be only B1, rather than C something or something 2 or 3.

Numerous other contributory factors could also be taken into account, but arguably the most important of these is personal situation.








Some of us live alone, or with another capable adult, so are able to control our living conditions. Many more can only dream of such simplicity, having children to care for or another adult who depends on them. Others find themselves forced to mix at close quarters amongst the wider community, for example those in shared accommodation or care homes, or key workers on the cutting edge.

If you're in the green box, your lockdown challenge may be no more than logging into work each day, or simply filling time. If you're bored, you're having it easy. Meanwhile millions in the yellow box are battling on, juggling work with home-schooling or supporting someone who can't support themselves. Lockdown has only made their lives harder, or at least no easier.

In the red box we find those least able to control their own circumstances, hence most vulnerable to the pandemic. Those working for the NHS, or forced to venture onto crowded public transport, or living communally in large groups, are amongst those included here. For those of us living in developed countries it's worth remembering that the majority of the world's population is probably in red.

With three factors now under consideration, what we need is a 3-dimensional model.

Sorry, I've had to draw it for myself so it's not brilliant. I'm the green cube at the bottom - B1i.

The optimum cube is bottom left (A1i), the young solvent independent household. The central cube (B2ii) might represent a furloughed family with teenage children. Care homes are top front (C1iii), their residents having few money worries but plenty of other issues. As for the deadliest cube top right (C3iii), some of our older, poorer key workers may find themselves here.

If your cube is near the bottom left-hand corner, you're likely less to be concerned about the current situation than those whose cube is on the top face, rear face or right-hand-facing face. Anxiety is not evenly spread across this grid.

And although all this ought to be obvious, it's very easy to forget that others live in very different situations to ourselves, and this might be affecting our opinions on how lockdown should be eased. Those in the 'C' slice fearful of reopening society may not be thinking about those in the '3' slice who need the economy running asap... and vice versa. Those of us in the 'i' slice sitting comfortably in our own homes doing bugger all may have forgotten quite how many people are stacked in the two layers above us keeping the country up and running.

Most importantly, the politicians making the big decisions need to remember that we may all be in this together, but we're not all together in this equally.

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