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.


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.


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.


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.