John Lewis selling £30 board game called ‘Pandemic’ made in China

The game, which simulates the worldwide impact of a virulent disease, was released many years before the emergence of COVID-19. However, with Christmas fast approaching and board games a popular stocking-filer, the decision to display it prominently in one UK branch of John Lewis rankled with one shopper.

Taking pictures to underline their point, they told “You’d think someone would stop and think about the 5.2 million people who have died and say ‘maybe this isn’t appropriate this Christmas’.”

The game, priced at £29.99 and aimed at the 10 to adult age range, was made in China, according to the price tag.

The game, which was designed by Matt Leacock, was released in 2008, according to the Boardgamegeek website, and is sold by other major stores including Argos and Debenhams.

The basic premise of the game is based on several virulent diseases breaking out simultaneously all over the world.

Players are disease-fighting specialists whose mission is to treat disease hotspots while researching cures for each of the illnesses before they get out of hand.

Boardgamegeek’s description explains: “The game board depicts several major population centres on Earth.

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If one or more diseases spreads beyond recovery or if too much time elapses, the players all lose, whereas if they cure the four diseases, they all win.

England’s COVID-19 weekly reproduction “R” number has risen and is likely to be above one, with latest estimates showing it between 1.0 and 1.1, the UK Health Security Agency said on Friday.

An R number between 1.0 and 1.1 means that for every 10 people infected, they will on average infect between 10 and 11 other people. Last week R was estimated between 0.8 and 1.0.

The daily growth of infections was estimated between -1 percent and +2 percent, compared to -2 percent and zero percent the previous week.

Also on Friday, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said a newly identified coronavirus variant spreading in South Africa was of huge concern, and considered by scientists to be the most significant one yet found as it could make vaccines less effective.

The UK Health Security Agency said that the variant – called B.1.1.529 – had a spike protein that was dramatically different to the one in the original coronavirus that COVID-19 vaccines are based on.

The variant has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong, and Britain has banned flights from South Africa and five neighbouring countries.

Mr Javid told the Commons: “There are no detected cases of this variant in the UK at this time.

“But this new variant is of huge international concern.

“We are concerned that this new variant may pose a substantial risk to public health. The variant has an unusually large number of mutations.”

A John Lewis spokesman told “This game is sold in a number of other major retailers and was launched several years before the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.” 

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