Science during Lockdown

Some Science-related diversions to pass the time during the Coronavirus Lockdown

in your own home
any day you choose
any time at all
Send your suggestions for other interesting science nuggets to be included,  e mail these to: or call:
  • Jack Brettle - 01695 422912, or
  • Alan Nolan - 01695 423442

We can’t meet, but we can still enjoy some science

While we’re trying to stay safe and stay at home during the present pandemic, we thought you might enjoy some science-related content.

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Coronavirus Science

Coronavirus Science

Do you think that all we talk about and hear about is Corona Virus?  Do you want to make sense of all you read in the press or hear in media?  Perhaps become a Corona Virus expert to argue with your friends or win the prize in the online Corona Virus quiz (do we have one yet?).  Then read on, and learn all about it!

Latest Corona Virus Information

Government NHS COVID-19 Tracking App

The official UK Government tracker app was evaluated on the Isle of Wight and in Newham, East London, where significant problems were identified.  The development and use of similar apps has faced problems in other countries.  As a result of the evaluation trials a “hybrid” app with some of the characteristics of the existing Google/Apple contact tracing app and the UK Government app has been developed.  It has now been launched publicly (24th Sept 2020) and is compatible with most Apple and Android based smart phones, unless the models are too old.  It is downloadable from the Apple App Store or Google Play.  The name of the app is “NHS Covid-19” if you need to search for it and it should work on the following phones:

  • iPhone 6S
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone 11Pro
  • Xioami MI A2
  • Nexus 5X
  • Nokia 7+
  • Xiaomi Redmi note 8
  • Samsung A6
  • Samsung S20
  • Google Pixel 3
  • Google Pixel 3 XL
  • Google Pixel 3a
  • Google Pixel 4 (Unlocked)
  • Google Pixel 4 XL (Unlocked)
  • Google Pixel 2
  • Google Pixel 2 XL
  • Samsung Galaxy A40
  • Samsung Galaxy A50
  • Samsung Galaxy A70
  • Samsung Galaxy S10
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
  • Samsung Galaxy S10e
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 (Unlocked)
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Unlocked)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Unlocked)

If your phone is not listed, it may not have been tested yet. It may still work as long as it satisfies the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) 4 or above and Android Marshmallow (v6.0) or iOS 13.5 or above.  Just give it a try, the Apple App Store or Google Play should tell you if your phone is too old for the App.  At last count over 14 million people had downloaded it.

What will the App do?  It will:

  • tell you what is the risk level for Covid 19 for the area you live in (you need to put in a part post code to tell the app where you are)
  • scan for nearby phone using Bluetooth so that it can identify if you have been near anyone who also has the app installed and later reports symptoms
  • allows you to scan for QR codes at any restaurant, pub or similar venue which has the NHS QR code on display, this registers you as having been present to aid tracking if you, or anyone else at the venue at the same time, later develop coronavirus symptoms.  I think that having a QR code on display will be compulsory for “hospitality venues” soon.  Being able to scan the code should mean that you do not have to give your details manually to the venue.  I have seen a QR code notice recently in some non hospitality venues (e.g. Hartley’s Nurseries!) so it is worth keeping a look out for them.
  • allow you can check coronavirus symptoms, report if you have them and book a test if you do.
  • allow you to read the latest NHS coronavirus advice
  • enter any test results you have received, this will help the tracing of other contacts you might have had and alert them.

You can find more detailed information from the official NHS web site at

Scientific Briefing

Information from government ministers can sometimes seem unclear and even contradictory but you can access the science ideas which underpins advice to government.  This often makes more sense.  An example is the rather sobering 21st Sept technical coronavirus briefing from Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance which you can see at   The data which they based the briefing on is available at and is updated daily.

Local Situation

What are the new coronavirus restrictions in Lancashire and how might they affect you?  Again people often say it is all too confusing, it changes all the time and I don’t understand it.  You can see the up to date information on restrictions operating from 22nd Sept 2020 set out in a clear way at

If you want to find the current number of cases in West Lancashire you need to go to ; this will give you a summary of all the government statistics for the UK but if you click on “Cases” in the sidebar and then look at “Cases by area” you will find the data specific to West Lancashire by clicking on the “Lower Tier LA” tab towards the bottom of this page.  You can find lots of up to date information on cases, deaths, hospital admissions and testing in all parts of the country on the website if you are really interested.

Hope this helps.


More Coronavirus Background Information

COVID-19 Symptom Tracker (not the official NHS Covid-19 app)

Take 1 minute to report your health daily, even if you’re well.

  • Help slow the outbreak
  • Join millions of people helping to fight COVID-19
  • Help scientists identify high risk areas in the UK

The COVID Symptom Tracker was designed by doctors and scientists at King’s College London, Guys and St Thomas’ Hospitals working in partnership with ZOE Global Ltd – a health science company. The Tracker is an app that runs on an iPhone or an Android phone, and by using this app you would be contributing to advancing research on COVID-19 by the Kings College team. The app will be used to study the symptoms of the virus and track how it spreads. For more information go to the COVID-19 Symptom Tracker website.

The Francis Crick Institute, King’s College London, and Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

An analysis of the composition of immune cells in the blood of patients with COVID-19, reveals new aspects of how the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus causes disease, you can read about it at

Imperial College

The MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College has provided the major scientific input to the government on the Coronavirus strategy.  By following the link below you can see their Covid-19 reports.  Report number 9 was an early influence on the Government’s response to the pandemic, and even if you are not interested in the science, reading the introduction and discussion is worthwhile, and you can get an idea of what might be coming next by reading it.


The WHO – not the rock band!  Confused by all the media reports on Covid-19, want to keep up to date on what is going on worldwide?  The World Health Organisation provides daily high quality scientific information in an easily understood format at

“Advice to the Public” in the sidebar gives reliable information on e.g. masks, coronavirus myths etc.

CEBM – The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine

The CEBM has a useful Oxford COVID-19 Evidence Service giving rapid reviews of primary care questions relating to the coronavirus pandemic. It is updated regularly.

Vaccine Development in the UK

The UK Government have recently announced major funding for vaccine development by two research groups, one at Imperial College and one at Oxford University.  You can read more about the details at:  and at

Coronavirus: the science explained

Coronavirus: the science explained is an authoritative website maintained by UKRI (UK Research & Innovation) the government organisation which funds much of the research work in UK universities.  You have paid for it so you might as well see what it is doing with your money!  The site lays out the evidence and the facts about the virus, the disease, the epidemic, and its control and is regularly updated with the latest science information behind the coronavirus pandemic.  If you keep up to date with this you will be better informed than the average television commentator or newspaper journalist.

BAME and Corona Virus

There has a lot in the media recently about the effect of corona virus on BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) communities.  The Public Health England report it is based on covered all reasons for “disparities” from the normal for all types of characteristics e.g age, sex, diabetes, obesity etc.  You can access the report at

It has not been able so far to come to definitive conclusions relating the increased risk of Covid 19 due to ethnic origins because of the difficulties of including the influence of factors relating to co-morbidities and types of employment of BAME communities.

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