Last month marked a year since the World Health Organisation officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic, which has so far led to more than 2.7 million deaths across the world.
What is less easy to quantify is the toll on our mental health from the constant bad news, endless screen hours and starvation of social contact, which has led to a lack of demarcation between periods when we need to focus and periods when we need to switch off.
In this issue, Helena Boschi looks at how the human brain has been affected by the isolation and stress of the pandemic, and what we need to do to keep going. Now that restrictions are slowly being lifted, we should take time to celebrate what we have achieved during the past year, keeping on through isolation and the fear we have felt for ourselves and our loved ones. Her message is full of hope that we can emerge kinder, with more thought and understanding for those who need our support.
In our cover article, Michael Ducker and Ian Lennox look at how lifestyle factors can be used in insurance risk assessment, and ask whether such approaches could lead to positive health benefits. There is considerable overlap between the factors considered in this research (such as sleep, nutrition and physical activity) and Helena’s advice about finding ways to stay healthy and keep going.
And finally, if motivation and energy levels are waning, why not try learning a new skill? Manuel León-Urrutia tells us about the Certificate in Data Science one year on from its launch and we interview Andreas Kyprianou, director of the Institute for Mathematical Innovation at the University of Bath, who is passionate about solving humanity’s biggest challenges through collaboration between academia and industry.
As always, I hope you enjoy the issue and stay kind to each other.