Flatten the Curve

With the UK regime’s head honcho and his Minister of Health testing positive for Covid-19 today, and the Chief Medical Officer isolating himself with symptoms, the next few weeks may rise to another level of stupid. It appears from this afternoon’s briefing that other leading regime policymakers are not going to be tested for the virus because they don’t have symptoms of the disease. Wow. Asymptomatic super spreaders at the heart of what passes for government. What could possibly go wrong?

We, the bemused sheeple of the UK, are being told we are “two weeks behind Italy”. Across the Pond, the Great Leader expects to celebrate Easter and deliverance from the plague.

I am not double-checking the data I’m about to present. It is very obvious that accurate numbers for Covid-19 infections and deaths don’t exist anywhere. So there is no point putting in extra effort to make sure I haven’t made errors graphing bogus data. But suspect figures hastily gathered might still paint a useful picture.

I have taken predicted totals for infections and deaths from the Andology Prediction Tool, with countries given the same R0 (2.5), Mortality Rate (2%) and doubling time (7 days). For the first three or four months, all countries have the same weekly totals, until population totals diverge. These later differences don’t come into play here. Reported infections and deaths have been taken from Worldometers.

Italy’s Patient Zero surfaced on 29 January; the UK’s two days later. (You may find different first case dates given in other sources but I’m running with these.) The countries are not too far apart in population size: Italy 60.36 million, UK 67.74.

The first Covid-19 death was reported in Italy on 22 February and the UK’s first thirteen days later on 5 March. The graph below starts on the day Italy recorded its tenth death, 25 February.

ITALYvUK_CovDeaths

I’ve chosen to give the graph a log scale, so rather than flattening a curve please imagine bending a straight line downwards, as much as possible. The dotted prediction lines are slightly wavy but straight enough to indicate the exponential rise in deaths.

Although they crossed the infection start line almost together, Italy’s terrible death toll began quickly and rose at a greater than exponential rate. But its lockdown policy appears to be effective, bending the line in the last few days.

I’m not sure why the UK was slow to lose people, compared to Italy. The regime didn’t have any control from the outset. Recent reports have proclaimed that the “death rate” in the UK is greater than in Italy and this graph offers confirmation. Deaths are doubling every three or four days in the UK now. In the notional two weeks that we are behind Italy – that is four doublings. Yesterday, Italy’s death total was 8,215. The indications are that by Good Friday, the UK will have lost over 9,000 citizens to Covid-19. How much will the curve have been flattened, or the exponential line bent? Each one of us “ordinary folk” can make a useful contribution towards the recovery. We shouldn’t expect help, only hindrance, from those who rule over us. Amazing Polly explains.

From a Distance

I jumped the gun with Yesterday’s Image. For several mornings the sky above the Bay had been wonderfully clean and free of scratches. This morning at 7.14 –

20200322PolarAirCargo

A Polar Air Cargo Boeing 747-45E(F), GT18521, heading from Frankfurt to Chicago. Playback on Flightradar 24 showed there was not much else up there.

Social Distance

Weatherwise, it has been a lovely weekend here and Brits have flocked to the nation’s beauty spots to have “we want to catch Coronavirus” picnics. Give it a week and happy wanderers may need to explain themselves to the police, or to one of the 20,000 or so military mustered to instil social discipline. Freedom to roam will soon be taken away from us if we don’t take the virus seriously.

How serious is Covid-19? Opinions differ wildly. It doesn’t help that the figures for infections and deaths from the disease cannot be trusted. But even discredited stats can produce charts, graphs and histograms that just might trigger a lightbulb moment.

Deaths from Covid-19 are under-reported in many countries – many being “hidden” behind the various comorbidities that afflicted the deceased or simply marked down to the winter ‘flu in the northern hemisphere.

Statistical models from various sources seem to be pointing to deaths in the millions globally. The virus prediction tool from Andology, primed with an “Rnought” of 2.5 and a mortality rate of 2% generates a UK death toll of about 600,000 by the end of June. I have summarily cut this down to 25,000 for this country and the other nine in the current Top Ten of most lethal nations. The histogram below shows how far along the road to 100 per cent of 25,000 deaths these nations are.

21Mar_TopTenDeaths

Italy will blow through 25,000 two or three weeks from now, and the UK around the middle of May. I’ll raise the “estimate” whenever necessary and keep an eye open for other countries breaking into the Top Ten. (Source: Worldometers.)

In the meantime, keep your distance.

 

Grim

30200304GrimReaper1_6mI photographed him before catching the Scarborough bus this morning. He shows people arriving at Filey Surgery which way the wind is blowing.

Back at the ranch a couple of hours later, I learned that 35 more UK citizens had tested positive for Covid-19. My country had been “in the pink” until today. It seems likely that the Fifth Week (since Patient Zero showed up) will see exponential growth of infections become too obvious to ignore. Though people will still go to football and rugby stadia this weekend in their hundreds of thousands.

I should explain “in the pink”. I have chosen to follow the fortunes of 20 countries and one Plague Ship. One of my countries, Syria, has yet to report a confirmed infection. Argentina, Ireland, Nigeria and New Zealand have only recently become officially infected.

I have created spreadsheets using Andy’s Prediction Tool, giving every country and Diamond Princess the same parameters. The infection rate (R0) is currently estimated to be between 4 and 7. I am applying an “R nought” of 2.5 to all countries. The mortality rate claimed by countries is sometimes as low as 1%, (ten times greater than seasonal ‘flu) but I think South Korea has just stated its current rate is over 3%. (South Korea is the exemplar in the way it is dealing with the virus.) I have chosen to go with a 2% mortality rate. And a doubling time of 7 days. Some countries are seeing their numbers of confirmed cases and deaths doubling every three or four days. Today the UK’s reported infections rose over 50% in 24 hours.

Given my modest assumptions, it is disheartening that only eight countries are “in the pink”, with reported infections being fewer than predicted. The United States is one of these seemingly blessed countries – but its “government” has tested very few people for the disease so far, guaranteeing low returns. South Korea’s heavy testing gives totals that are more believable but puts the country deep “in the black”.

I’m still working on presentation but this will illustrate my terms.

20200304_SthKorUSAcovinf

In this same week, South Korea had 8 more “black deaths” than predicted and the USA 5 fewer.

It will be interesting to see how these two compare a month from now. I expect Mr Reaper to be far busier in North America, whether the US reports the death toll accurately or not.

Update (about 20 minutes later)

Dr John on today’s figures.

2019-nCoV

The novel Coronavirus hasn’t been given a snappy acronym yet, like MERS or SARS. I would favour a name like Mad Scientist Disease or BWF (BioWeapon Flu). Gates of Hell Syndrome has a ring to it. Watching videos of people falling dead in the street in China, or vomiting blood on public transport, is very upsetting. How much worse is it going to get?

I downloaded the coronavirus prediction tool from Andology this morning. It is an Excel spreadsheet in which you can insert country-specific values for the following Assumptions:-

Starting Population

Start Date (Patient Zero)

Initial Infections

Infection Rate (R0)

Incubation Time (Days)

Mortality Rate

Mortality Complicator

Virus Burnout Rate

If you like messing around with spreadsheets you may find this one a joy to use – the pleasure obviously tainted by observing the deaths of millions of people.

I “modelled” China first. There is a suspicion that the Chinese Government is under-reporting infections and deaths but my first set of Assumptions generated much lower figures than those published to date. Adjusting R0 and Mortality Rate brought 450 predicted deaths to 5 February (494 reported), but these derived from only 2744 infections (24,447 reported). I will play around with the assumptions to see if I can bring predictions and reality closer together and thereby get a better idea of the final death rate when the virus burns out.

Each country infected will have a different journey over the spikey bell curve of rapidly increasing illness and death and an equally precipitous fall to zero infection in the population.

I applied the China assumptions to the UK (just two infected people so far) and was surprised that the virus died at about the same time – mid-June this year in China and a couple of weeks later in the UK. In around six months my models predict 392 million Chinese deaths and almost 10 million Brits and Northern Irish. As we wait in the UK for the novel coronavirus to claim its first victim, this outcome seems unlikely.

But the exponential growth of anything bad is the stuff of nightmares.

CHINA_Coronavirus1

With my set of amateurish assumptions, China will lose 27% of its population and the UK 14%. That’s 42% of those infected in China and 16% in the UK. The R0 and initial assumed Mortality Rate are the same for both countries (3.7 and 10%). I’m not clever enough to figure out this difference in the final outcome.

I hope things work out much better than this – but it could possibly be worse. Deaths resulting from the possible collapse of the global economy and social breakdown worldwide have to be factored in somehow.

2020 was going to be an interesting year without this.

Another name for novel coronavirus – WuFlu. You can also keep up with developments at Johns Hopkins. And if you download the prediction tool from Andology you can get up-to-date population figures at Worldmeters.