Bristol Professor gives evidence to covid-19 national recovery committee

Professor Philip Thomas of the University of Bristol has provided written evidence to the UK Treasury Committee that is assessing the economic impact of coronavirus.

Professor Thomas, Professor of Risk Management, has evaluated options available to national governments to combat the COVID-19 pandemic using the J value method, previously applied to mass evacuation scenarios. The method empirically assesses expenditure of a safety scheme against the value of life and potential gains in life expectancy.

The evidence is based on recent research published in Nanotechnology Perceptions, as well as the original J value work published in 2017. The analysis provided by Professor Thomas assesses four options for exiting lockdown in context of the economic and life expectancy impact of these measures.

Assessment of four options available to the UK Government

The four options evaluated were:

  • Option 1: keep the Basic Reproduction Number, R0, below 1.0 (Government's currently declared policy)
  • Option 2: move out as quickly as possible without overstraining the health services
  • Option 3: move out completely in 2020 while minimising Covid-19 cases
  • Option 4: move out of lockdown as fast as possible

The analysis suggests that Option 3 would be the optimal choice to minimise the nation’s total loss of life and ensure a quicker economic recovery to avoid additional deaths from factors other than covid-19.  However this suggests a second, large wave of infections is expected and therefore the challenge will be to manage and contain this to ensure health services are not overwhelmed.

Further information

Research Paper

Philip Thomas, 2020, "J-value assessment of  how best to combat COVID-19", Nanotechnology Perceptions, Vol.16, pp. 16–40


The J-value provides an objective tool that assesses the cost-effectiveness of safety schemes for a wide range of industries. It is a new approach, based on established economic theory, that balances safety expenditure against the extension of life-expectancy brought about by the safety scheme.

A major application was in the NREFS Project: Coping with a big nuclear accident that was released in a special issue of Process Safety and Environmental Protection in 2017.

Thomas, P. and May, J. (eds.), 2017, "Coping with a big nuclear accident; Closing papers from the NREFS project", Special Issue of Process Safety and Environmental Protection, Volume 112, Part A, Pages 1–198, November. Get all these open access papers from ScienceDirect

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