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Media captionHannah Fry wants your smartphone and your assist to run the undertaking

We appear to be affected by a world amnesia. Ask any passerby – as we did – “What was essentially the most catastrophic explanation for loss of life within the final 100 years?” and also you obtain the same old suspects: WWII, maybe WWI. There are additionally some much less apparent replies: Chernobyl, the Boxing Day Tsunami, Hiroshima. Very, very hardly ever will anybody say Spanish Flu, and but that individual pandemic killed as much as 100 million individuals.

There have been three others since then. Much more astonishing is that the UK Authorities considers one other flu pandemic so harmful to our society that it tops the record of the newly up to date Nationwide Threat Register for Civil Emergencies.

So it’s notably well timed that the BBC has simply launched the BBC Pandemic App on the iOS App Store and Google Play.

This free app is a part of the most important experiment of its form, a citizen science experiment that goals to unfold a digital pandemic – an outbreak of a simulated infectious illness across the whole nation.

Which will sound like an odd factor to wish to do however, if profitable, the BBC Pandemic might assist save lives when – not if – the subsequent deadly pandemic spreads internationally.

With worldwide air journey at over 4 billion flights final yr alone, stopping a flu pandemic taking maintain is just about unimaginable these days, however the BBC Pandemic App will assist a group of mathematical epidemiologists from the College of Cambridge and the London College of Hygiene and Tropical Drugs predict how a virus might unfold throughout the UK and, crucially, take a look at what could be executed to gradual it down.

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Media captionWho knew flu might be such a giant killer?

The issue with pandemic flu viruses is that they emerge unannounced, not like the seasonal flu we expertise each winter.

Seasonal flu will be lethal too and the warning indicators from Australia present that this yr might be a foul one, however a minimum of we get a heads-up from our southern neighbours a number of months upfront.

This offers the important time essential to get a vaccine tailored and manufactured in adequate quantity to vaccinate key employees and people most weak.

However, each every so often, the animal world creates a pressure of the flu virus that people have by no means seen earlier than – we’ve got little safety from our immune system, or sufficient time to make a vaccine earlier than the virus has began to unfold.

The 2009 pandemic was generally generally known as swine flu as a result of the human virus contained genes from a pig flu virus. The devastating Spanish Flu pandemic was attributable to a virus that appears to have emerged from birds.

Planning for one more pandemic is the very best defence we’ve got till vaccine know-how manages to catch up. And that’s the place everybody within the UK can assist, by downloading the BBC Pandemic App.

As soon as downloaded, customers will probably be requested primary questions like age and employment standing.

Then the app will observe customers’ approximate place each hour for simply 24 hours – however the GPS will solely be inside the nearest sq. kilometre. Privacy as well as data protection is taken very seriously by the group.

On the finish of the 24 hours, there are just a few questions in regards to the form of face-to-face contacts the customers made in that point.

And that’s it. Easy however sufficient to offer actual information the researchers can use to assist predict the unfold of an actual outbreak.

The problem is they want 10,000 UK-wide to obtain the app and take part.

This has by no means been executed earlier than so anybody collaborating will probably be taking part in ground-breaking analysis.

The outcomes will probably be proven within the BBC Pandemic documentary on BBC 4 subsequent yr, introduced by UCL mathematician Dr Hannah Fry and emergency medic Dr Javid Abdelmoneim.

To obtain the app go to the App Retailer or Google Play and seek for “BBC Pandemic”.

There’s way more data on bbc.co.uk/pandemic. And, for these individuals who don’t have a smartphone, there will probably be an online questionnaire on the website so everybody can take part.