100 - Our Hundredth Bulletin
Is there a suitable metaphor for the last year? The pandemic that took everybody by surprise has often felt like a disaster movie; sometimes like ‘Groundhog Day’ for the many of us working from home and losing track of time; at other times, a new genre in its own right – ‘COVID noir’, perhaps.
If anything, it has been a journey. Students of drama in the widest sense will know that stories follow set patterns, with disruption to the status quo at the start leading to a physical or moral journey, torturous encounters, dramatic resolution, and the eventual return to some ‘new normal’. Just like the last year, although we are still not close enough to the final act.
In our 100th bulletin, an achievement we’re very proud of, we trace our own experience of the pandemic’s many ‘twists and turns’ to date. What started off as a ‘classical’ pandemic analysis quickly changed, mutating and spreading as fast as the virus itself. We were soon working on problems such as misinformation, data accuracy and case reporting, confounding risk factors, the life expectancy of octogenarian diabetics, behavioural economics, how the precautionary principle should be applied, how late reporting affects R calculations … and these were just the early months!
We have tackled this diversity of problems with a wide diversity of people and talents in our group. While our ‘core’ is actuarial, from the outset we included medical experts, actuaries with epidemiological backgrounds, catastrophists – all from a range of working backgrounds and countries. We have also been helped by many guest contributors, offering their valuable time, skills and insights. It has been a case study of teams being greater than the sum of their parts.
Joseph Campbell (the expert on narrative structure and meaning) once remarked in this context, ‘A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself’. We are certainly not heroes, an accolade deserved so much more by the many health workers who died from COVID-19, but we are proud to have contributed a large portion of our lives since last March to help others understand and tackle the pandemic better.
We hope that this bulletin provides an interesting perspective on the journey we have all been on so far. We are still some way from the end – if there can be such a thing in this context – but with worldwide vaccinations now around 100 million, there is cause for hope!