A group of actuaries have joined forces with epidemiologists, longevity specialists and others to form the COVID-19 Actuaries Response Group (ARG) to help fellow actuaries to understand and respond to the coronavirus. The group came together over LinkedIn and has called on other actuaries who can volunteer at least 25% of their time.

The group has launched its charter, with the key principle being that the ARG “will seek science and data, appreciating that we will not get to the full truth and objectivity if we want to respond quickly”. The members of the ARG include Tan Suee Chieh, soon to be President of the IFoA and Matthew Edwards, an actuary at Willis Towers Watson and an longevity specialist.

Most recently, the ARG have published a call to arms on their LinkedIn page looking for modelling and deep modelling specialists specifically but also those with data analysis and interpretation skills to help the government in a range of areas. These include but are not limited to understand the potential demand on finances and services and supporting service provision experts with logistical plans to provide food and medicine to those that need it the most.

The members of the group have emphasised speed and responsiveness in this crisis as the reason they are operating outside of their professional bodies, though although they are working separately from the IFoA, the IFoA have said they “welcome any actuarial incentives which are helping provide thoughtful insights which might assist the global response to COVID-19”.

The ARG have also published several other bulletins, the first one was on the pandemic modelling the government’s response had been based on. Despite receiving criticism earlier this month from others, the ARG took the view that the response had been based on “appropriate methodology, where the modellers have take reasonable care in calibrating the model parameters”.

They have also analysed a paper published by the University of Oxford that suggested over half the UK may have already been exposed to the virus, a paper that received widespread coverage in the media.

The ARG have also highlighted times in the past where actuaries have been needed in times of national crisis, including during World War Two and the proceeding creation of the welfare state.

What are the IFoA doing in response to the Coronavirus?

The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries is setting up a working party to look at the impacts of the virus outbreak in all areas of actuarial work as well as the creation of an IFoA Pandemics Hub which includes a range of information on COVID-19.

No professional guidance for actuaries regarding the virus has been issued as yet, though this is subject to change.

You can read more about the COVID-19 Actuaries Response Group on their LinkedIn page here.

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