Event: Pandemic Scenarios – Number Crunching and Communication Strategies

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Almost overnight, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we live. Within an impossibly short period of time, we had to calculate infection rates, assess the impact on our healthcare systems, and mobilize public solidarity to prevent the spread of the disease. This both required us to work together to leverage each other’s skills and expertise and tap into skills we did not know we had. We are inviting several distinguished speakers with medical, statistical, and actuarial backgrounds to learn more about the scientific efforts that have been undertaken to study the virus and its impact on society, but also the challenges of effectively communicating and engaging with the general public.   

This seminar is an initiative of the Research Centre for Longevity Risk1 to stimulate discussion and raise awareness on the topics and issues that impact life expectancy. The audience will comprise stakeholders from different perspectives including policymakers, academics, actuaries, business leaders, and medical professionals.   

The event will be held on Tuesday, June 28 in the Koninklijke Industrieele Groote Club (www.igc.nl) in the centre of Amsterdam from 13:30 until 18:00 hrs. 

Register for the event below.

Program  

13:30

Prof. Torsten Kleinow, Director Research Centre for Longevity Risk and Professor of Actuarial and Economic Aspects of Longevity Risk at the University of Amsterdam

Welcome; information about the Research Centre for Longevity Risk

13:40

Stuart McDonald, MBE, Head of Demographic Assumptions and Methodology for Lloyds Banking Group

Alongside his role at Lloyds, Mr. McDonald is co-chair of the COVID-19 Actuaries Response Group and author of articles and blogs for The Actuary and other publications.

Abstract

The pandemic has led to heightened interest in risk, data and statistics. Concepts that were once the preserve of epidemiologists, statisticians or actuaries have entered the public and political discourse, with plenty of misunderstandings along the way. Stuart McDonald MBE will reflect on the pandemic and the contribution made by actuaries in the UK, and will discuss the use and misuse of data and statistics.

14:20

Prof. Niel Hens, Professor of Evidence-based Vaccinology, University of Hasselt and University of Antwerp

Prof. Hens is a biostatistician who coordinates the H2020 EpiPose project to study the pandemic. He is the winner of the annual prize for scientific communication from De Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van België and de Jonge Academie for his work in providing clarity on how science can help political and civil decision making during uncertain times.

Abstract

In my talk, I will go over the different mathematical and statistical models used to inform policy makers in managing the COVID-19 pandemic in Belgium. Specific attention will be devoted to two different agent-based models (general population, school environment); a meta-population model and a stochastic compartmental model that was used in Belgium. I will discuss the use of CoMix social contact data collected during the pandemic. Experiences dealing with the response of policy makers and the public to model-based forecasts will be shared. I will also shed some light, to the best extent possible, on what we can expect for the future evolution of the pandemic.

15:00

Break

15:15

Dr. Anja Schreijer, Medical Director Pandemic and Disaster Preparedness Center

Dr. Schreijer is a public health physician with a focus on infectious diseases, epidemiology and behavioural change. Dr. Schreijer was also a member of the Dutch Outbreak Management Team that has been advising the government during the pandemic.

Abstract

More than two years following the emergence of a new virus from Wuhan, it is now abundantly clear that SARS-CoV-2 is not going to disappear. The virus has spread widely across the globe, mutates continuously, and containment has proven impossible. The pandemic crisis management has focused on short-term interventions to mitigate the acute consequences of the pandemic. These interventions have had far-reaching impact on society. Children could not attend school, young people had their social life seriously restricted, entrepreneurs had to close their businesses, artists could not perform, vulnerable citizens suffered social isolation, travel was restricted, and sport facilities could not open their doors. However, there were also scientific successes like the rapid development of tests and vaccines the prevention of many deaths by outbreak management.

There is a clear need for a predictable, long-term perspective that also accounts for the worst-case scenarios. We were not prepared for this pandemic that had a serious impact on our society and in a way that may be preventable in the future. Pandemic preparedness includes building a resilient society and the development of an evidence-based and holistic decision-making framework. What are the lessons learned from this pandemic? How can we be better prepared for future pandemics and disasters?

15:55

Dr. Philip Haywood, Health Policy Analyst OECD

Dr. Haywood is a health economist and physician with a focus on health systems reform. At the OECD Health Division, he conducts international comparisons of health systems resilience and the fundamentals of integrated care.

Abstract

The pandemic clearly revealed that health systems were not resilient enough. Learning from this experience is key to ensure that health systems are much better prepared to face future threats. This presentation takes the pandemic as a starting point to identify where areas of strengthening the resilience of health systems is essential. It focuses on information, data, communication and cooperation as system components that underpin the required agility for a successful health and societal response.

16:35

Q+A Session

Q+A with our four guests on the lessons we have learned from the pandemic in communicating a complex message and engaging people to take action and change their behaviour.

17:15

Drinks reception and opportunity to network

18:00

Conclusion

Register for the seminar