The R–number is a measure of the rate at which C19 is being transmitted.
An R value larger than 1 means that the disease is infecting more people.
An R value less than 1 means that it is on the decline.
It seems to me that communities with overcrowded housing, where reliance on public transport is high, and where trips out are more frequent are likely to have a higher R-number than communities where trips out are occasional because a car boot can be filled, or shopping can be delivered, or where gardens can be enjoyed and houses have enough rooms for social distancing to be maintained.
The R-number is likely to be higher in some communities than in others. Black and Minority Ethnic communities and poorer communities I would guess will experience significantly higher R-numbers than neighbouring more affluent communities.
Yet much of our policy, our ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown is based on this R-number and whether it is going up or down. And it seems to me that this policy is then in danger of leading to increased sickness and mortality in certain communities. It may discriminate against BAME and poor people. It may be a part of the structures of racism.
Now I am not an expert in health policy and epidemiology and it may be that the R-number is used in such a way to make sure that ‘no-one is left behind’ particularly those groups that already face higher rates of sickness and mortality, and that our roadmap out of lockdown will prioritise the health and wellbeing of those at greatest risk rather than some fictional ‘average’ person.
I sincerely hope so…
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