April to beginning of July 2020 – year 3 and remote working continues

In Europe we have been through the first ‘wave’ (*) of COVID-19, the UK still not quite at the end of it. It’s now the beginning of July and I am still remote working (from France).

At the beginning it was stress and strict lockdown: only allowed one hour outside each day, within 1km walk, with a self-certificate. In the middle of it, I had to switch off the news for a week to reduce the panic. Dad in Italy alone and impossible to visit. Then slowly easing restrictions – no restrictions to local walks and no need for certificate. Now most restrictions are officially gone, just masks in closed spaces and a metre distancing. Yet at the numbers of cases we still have now, New Zealand had strict lockdowns! To be safe we keep with our work routine, and only go out once a day. And I learned to make cloth masks.

In this pandemic I delved into crisis management theories, epidemiology, evidence based practice/policy making, and philosophy of science.

“The philosophy of science, it seems, has become a matter of life or death.” (Sabine Hossenfelder on June 18, 2020)

Fiery debates on Twitter and online on the evidence for masks, and stories as science! Among the paradigms to shift in order to save (or not) lives:

– From the evidence-based medicine paradigm and linear causality, to the complex systems and emergent multiple non-linear influences (Greenhalgh 2020)

– From interventions aimed at individual behaviour to those aimed at collective cumulative effects

– From contolled to natural experiments (Ogilvie et al 2020)

– From models for precise predictions to models for making political choices (‘the truth about scientific models’)

– From science to policies and, unfortunately to the worst of politics – as we learn from comparing New Zealand, or Europe, to Brazil, UK and US policy response to the pandemics (or ‘the bolsonaro bet’ – Woods, 2020)

– While in the shadows AI has become apparently an everyday tool for public health and medical research and practice (Scott and Coiera, 2020)

In the meantime, there was also violence against blacks and minorities #BlackLivesMatter, corruption in the UK government and the countdown to Brexit.

But it was also spring and jakarandas were in flower, and I was learning French.

Keeping the research going

My research work did not stop because of the lockdown: lots of writing, completing the analysis of the studies done in Australia – papers (re)submitted (currently under review), reviewed and revised, and in the making. As well as thinking new research projects, in collaboration with UK and European partners.

Seminars attended (remotely)

ISQua Education: The COVID-19 Response in Italy: Learning from the front line with Dr. Francesco Venneri. (webinar – 24/3/2020)

Oksana Pyzik:  Global Citizenship & the Coronavirus Pandemic, Research Department of Practice and Policy, UCL School of Pharmacy (zoom) on 15 April 2020

Dr Jyoti Mishra (Leeds Business School): Missing “Information Sphere” in Circular Economy: Towards Information Sharing Archetypes for Value Creation, 4June 2020

Dr Gary Graham (Leeds Business School): Impacts on Business: Lockdown – Managing a Global Supply Chain from home, 23 June 2020

Professor Erik Hollnagel: The nature of crises – an analytical perspective (ISQua Education), 24 June 2020

CMSSQ journal club meetings, 6 May, 13 May, 3 JUne, 17 June 2020

(*) waves of different shape… a history of “metaphorical, mathematical, and moral messaging”. For me, a way of making sense of where we are now and where we may be in a near future, and whether I can go travelling soon. We are told to think now as if it’s two weeks ahead, and this is difficult.


Greenhalgh T (2020) Will COVID-19 be evidence-based medicine’s nemesis? PLoS Med 17(6): e1003266

Scott IA, Coiera EW. Can AI help in the fight against COVID-19?. Med J Aust 2020 [Preprint, 19 June 2020].

Woods D. Bets Against the Odds in a Pandemic: Which of three Coronavirus bets are you willing to gamble on? [working paper]. Zenodo 2020

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