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Perspectives on COVID-19 and Risk - Online Summit

Posted by Ann Caluori | Tue, 10/11/2020 - 09:00


The Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM), The Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM) and the University of Glasgow are today hosting a summit on COVID-19 and Risk. The summit will bring together global experts and will review how reducing one risk to control COVID-19 will cause risk elsewhere.  


To help us to find our way through these different perspectives, Lord Blunkett, Patron of the SOM, will introduce academic, public health and scientific leaders, asking questions such as:

  • Does unemployment create a bigger societal risk to health than COVID-19?
  • Are scientific approaches to individual and societal risk to COVID-19 challengeable?
  • What long-term approach to risk should medical leaders take to the public?
  • Do people understand risk and what level of risk can we afford?

Speakers include Dr Oliver Morgan from the World Health Organization and Sir David Spiegelhalter OBE.


A key risk is interruption to NHS routine care. This poses a risk to the health of the nation, and prevents people staying in work. The outcome of this is yet to be seen.

There is also risk from unemployment. Studies have shown a clear link between unemployment and shortened life expectancy[1], significantly elevated risk of suicide[2] and non-fatal self-harm[3]. Of the 33 million UK citizens who were working before the COVID-19 outbreak, 9.4 million have been furloughed, and 2.6 million self-employed are claiming financial support. Almost 700,000 jobs have disappeared in the UK, and many are facing long-term unemployment and financial difficulties[4].


Of course there is the risk from COVID-19 itself. The summit includes a presentation from Dr Tony Williams and Professor David Coggon OBE, who developed the “COVID-age” concept which is an evidence-based way of explaining personal risk. A new QCOVID risk tool from the University of Oxford will also be highlighted by Professor Julia Hippisley-Cox.


Professor Sir Michael Marmot will highlight long-term risks related to inequalities that COVID-19 is creating, including higher death rates for particular ages, occupational groups and areas; with risks associated with unemployment, COVID risk and access to healthcare.


Read the full press release here.