Dr Pip Beard, co-ordinator of the Defend 2020 project, was one of four experts to run Pandemic Live, a simulated virus outbreak exercise, at this year’s Cheltenham Science Festival.
Using audience participation the exercise demonstrated how quickly an outbreak can happen and the possible impact on British farming should a new deadly virus hit. The panel included Dr Simon Carpenter, an entomologist from The Pirbright Institute, Richard Hatchett, biodefence expert and mathematician Hannah Fry, who provided scenarios and expertise as the event unfolded.
Pip Beard said “Communicating with the public about the work we do is a key part of our job as scientists. This scenario-based exercise gave the audience an insight into the role of an expert scientist when faced with an outbreak of a livestock disease in the EU, and highlighted the difficulties in making decisions and providing recommendations when the scientific evidence is incomplete”.