I am not thrilled with checking on COVID-19 numbers. You have probably done this quite a bit over the last year. It is hard to believe that at this date last year was the first point at which human to human transmission was confirmed by a Chinese scientist. There would still be weeks before it became clear that this was going to be a global pandemic, and it was not until the end of March that we realised how bad, and therefore how serious the response would need to be. Things changed rapidly. Throughout that period I have checked various statistics sites, built models, talked with insurers about impacts, reinsurers, and gathered information that is relevant to the sector. I am not exactly sick of it, but the grim reality does weigh one down.
But these are merely numbers. I know, of course, that each number is a precious life lost. Even for many of the survivors there are very long-lasting effects. But the numbers never quite make it real, in some way, they overwhelm. This is a lot like using statistics to try and convince a young couple that they might need insurance. It is simply too hard to see themselves as one of those numbers. It is the emotional pull of real life that brings the issues home to me:
In March last year, my first experience of a friend with Covid-19: they flew back from the United States sitting next to someone on the plane 'who coughed a bit' - a few days after landing here, in isolation, they found they had Covid-19. That was months ago, she still has difficulty walking any significant distance.
A distant relative, elderly, hospitalised during the first wave in the UK, caught Covid-19, and impressively, at 98, survived. My father does volunteer work collecting food for his church to distribute through their food bank. It is a great job to have in retirement. He's in his late 70s and still collects - even though it isn't safe, really, for him to do so. Three of his friends have had Covid-19 - fortunately they all survived. A friend in the church, her son who worked in Spain was critically ill - fortunately he survived.
But so many don't live through it. You can see accounts of lots of people. Check out the BBC website. But again, more directly: last night I was on a zoom call which largely hosted people in the UK. There were 88 people on the call. Two who spoke had family members die in the last week. One woman's mother died during the week from Covid-19. One man lost his best friend 'choked to death' he said by Covid-19. Both in the last week.