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Opinion: Save lives by living under house arrest

PUBLISHED: 08:30 05 April 2020

Comedian Steve Allen is a hero in lockdown.

Comedian Steve Allen is a hero in lockdown.

Steve Allen

You are a hero. I can prove it using science.

We are under house arrest because some selfish people went to the seaside one weekend. We’re locked in and let out to exercise once a day. It’s basically prison rules. If I do some crimes in the future I hope they count this as time served off my sentence.

The logic that makes us feel like we have been bad can be used to make us

feel better. It’s going to get technical but here goes.

Before I did comedy I used to be a scientist. I was recently asked on radio to explain exponential growth, which is how viruses spread.

Imagine you’re in a room and once a day you go out and fetch someone to join you. If you did that for 10 days at the end there’d be you and 10 people. I’ve played stand-up gigs like that. Maybe I should have stuck with science. That’s linear growth.

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What if everyone you brought back could fetch someone? You’d fetch someone making two in the room. You two would get two more, making four. Then eight, then 16. Ten days in there would be 1,024 in that room. You’d really have to label things in the fridge.

That’s exponential growth.

With coronavirus they say you’re likely to spread it to three people. In our example, that’s like each person leaving the room and bringing back two people, not one.

In that case, 10 days later, it’s 59,049 people in that room and your landlord should be investigated.

With a mortality rate of 2 per cent, it’s 1,180 people who would die.

But turn that around. If you stay in you’re saving the lives of more than a thousand people.

If that doesn’t make you a hero I don’t know what does.


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