It is the third week of WFH and my biggest concern is trying to walk the recommended 10,000 daily steps. I live in central London and as I have marched around London’s empty streets I catch echoes of past healthcare challenges, and how society has overcome them. These echoes are also a reminder of not only the healthcare investments we have made in our portfolios, but also the need to continually work at our physical wellbeing and to continually monitor the health of our investment portfolios.
I start my walk close to home, at the offices of the historic St John’s Ambulance charity. Today’s St John’s Ambulance was formed in the 1870s to provide first aid in the workplace, back when it was easy to be injured by heavy machinery and medical treatment was expensive. Mercifully, the need for workplace first aid has nearly disappeared and the worst injury I have seen was when 7IM’s Chief Operations Officer stabbed herself in the palm cutting an avocado.
A short walk into Paddington is the Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum on the site of St Mary’s Hospital. A museum I have not visited yet, but hope to do so when it re-opens. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin and is celebrated in the name of a local pub – somewhere I also hope to visit when it re-opens! Alexander Fleming worked alone, and saved millions of lives with his discovery. Today there are many scientists working on a vaccine for COVID-19, aiming to achieve exactly the same result. Never in human history has a single disease been focussed on with such intensity and dedication.
I then wind 3,000 paces to Regent’s Park to the Royal College of Physicians. Inside the College they have interesting exhibits including a gruesome collection of pre-anaesthetic antique medical equipment and the famous Viva Room, where doctors for years have taken their final oral examination before qualification. It’s a reminder of how hard today’s doctors, nurses and support staff have worked and trained in order to be able to help society in moments of crisis.
Another brisk 10 minutes east towards Kings Cross there is the Francis Crick Institute, University College Hospital and the Wellcome Institute. The Francis Crick Institute represents a pooling of the latest scientific thinking from many sources including charities, London’s great teaching hospitals and those across the world. It’s always difficult to predict scientific developments, but we expect records to be broken when it comes to preventing and treating the coronavirus. Globalisation may have its drawbacks, but international co-operation when it comes to medicine is not one of them.
Pump your elbows now and head south for 20 minutes to Soho. There you will find a blue plaque and the John Snow pub. This is a reminder of a different and more lethal disease than we have today. John Snow discovered that cholera was waterborne in the outbreak of 1854. John realised that the outbreak’s source could be traced to two local wells close to the pub – he was able to contain the outbreak by removing the pump handles so the wells could not be used! This highlights both the importance of contact tracing, and also shows how effective simple steps can be to prevent contagion like regular hand washing today.
For the sake of my domestic harmony I have one final destination, the Florence Nightingale Museum on the site of St Thomas’ Hospital, where Mrs Sleep works. You may be surprised to learn that Florence Nightingale was a keen mathematician and used statistics to support her arguments about proper healthcare (and hand washing) during the Crimean War. Data is crucial – in medicine, and in investing. Our own mathematicians at 7IM fulfil a different role, helping 7IM’s portfolio managers stay fully diversified, checking performance and modelling stress tests to better understand and protect our portfolios on the downside.
If you manage this walk you will have greatly exceeded your 10,000 steps and contributed to your physical health. As you walk, and we work, keep an eye out for your local museums and collections and make a note to visit them once we have the all-clear. While you are keeping fit we are working hard to ensure the health of the savings you have entrusted to 7IM.