Coronavirus and the elderly

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Carol Propper, Professor of Economics at Imperial College Business School, took part in an LSE online event to discuss the impact of coronavirus on wellbeing

During the event entitled “Assessing the Impact of COVID-19: From Mortality to Misery?” on 21 May, Professor Propper told fellow academics that it was critical people understood the importance of the age factor in the transmission of coronavirus. 

“I think 80-year-olds who say they’d like to see their grandchildren are putting themselves not only at danger of a very nasty death but also at danger of overwhelming the health service again,” Professor Propper said.  

“This pandemic hits the old and we do need to be clear about that,” she added. 

Professor Propper went on to highlight that the majority of transmissions are now happening in hospitals and care homes, and that by putting themselves at risk, the elderly were also risking the lives of healthcare workers. 

As a cancer patient you don’t want to be travelling on the underground

However, Professor Propper also noted one of the positive outcomes related to the pandemic: a change in the way healthcare services are being delivered. She pointed to the increase in telephone appointments with cancer patients as an example. 

“As a cancer patient you don’t want to be travelling on the underground because you have very low neutrophils. It’s actually better to see someone in your own house.” 

The other academics taking part in the event included economist Richard Layard from the London School of Economics and Dr Daisy Fancourt from University College London, as well as MP Gus O’Donnell.  

The panel explored how the UK government response to coronavirus has focused on the mortality rate and asked what this response means for the nation’s wellbeing.

This is just one of a number of talks Professor Propper has given on the impact of coronavirus, including a debate entitled "War to Wellbeing" organised by cross-party organisation Compassion in Politics and another looking at wellbeing as the world emerges from lockdown. She is also the author of "Coronavirus: How economic lockdown is taking a toll on mental and physical health – and what it means for the future".

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About Evie Burrows-Taylor

Evie is Web Content Editor for the Institutional Marketing & Communications team. She is responsible for developing the School's faculty and research communications, working to amplify the School's intellectual leadership to a wide variety of international audiences. She also works on IB Knowledge and the School's news and events coverage.