A COVID-19 Update

It is now 5 days since I last reported on The Virus situation.  That was the day following the end of the Easter holiday period.  Has anything changed in that time?  Well, no it hasn’t, other than that all the numbers keep rising.  That will eventually stop of course.  At least we hope it will, and on the back of previous outbreaks that is, thankfully, the most likely outcome.

‘They’ keep telling us that ‘the peak’ is certain to come soon.  How do they know?  And is that important anyway?  I would suggest not.  In any case, even then the numbers will continue to grow – except for the number of active cases, which will begin to dwindle to zero, reaching that point at exactly the same time as all other numbers cease to grow.  All of that is common sense knowledge.  So why don’t ‘they’ tell us that?  I think we all know the reason.  It is because they want things to get back to normal of course – even though that may not be possible and the longer it takes to start down that track the more impossible, or at least implausible or difficult, that becomes.

So, where do we actually stand on the figures?  …and again I am only interested in the global picture.  We live in the one world, don’t we?

Over 2.3 million total cases.  Which means we are looking at 3 million in just over a week’s time.  That blue line is not showing even the flicker of a shift towards bending to the right, so is neither slowing down nor flattening. (Neither, incidentally, is it ‘exponential’.  Exponential growth, which is a continual growth at a fixed rate, whether positive or negative, and is therefore predictable, will always be represented by a curved line, either upward or downward, tending to infinity [vertical] at some point. In any physical environment, such is almost impossible to attain. This is more akin to linear growth at least for the past several weeks)

Closed cases remain solidly at just under a third of total cases and the death rate is steadfast at 21% of closed cases.  I am myself amazed that is still the case but not surprised at all that this is not being reported officially anywhere (as far as I know).  The death rate is the only ‘rate’ factor that should be of interest.  It is the only rate based on totals not associated with growth and while ‘they’ keep telling us that the rates of growth are slowing, ‘growth’ rates are both misleading and irrelevant to anything important – other than ‘their’ mildest chance of getting the economy going again.  All growth rates will eventually resolve to zero.  Only the death rate will never do that – because it is not based on ephemeral numbers.

For those who just can’t accept a death rate based on closed cases alone, let’s look at the rate calculated on total cases.  In order to do that we have to adjust the total cases and the deaths to the same point in time of case registration – so that we are comparing apples with apples.  This is how – 

Broadly speaking, death resulting from the virus occurs around 10 days after contagion. The actual number of days doesn’t matter for this purpose since it is only used to find the equivalent total case numbers at the same point.  So if you are not happy with 10 days, substitute it for your chosen number.  I’m using 10 because it makes the maths easier at this point.

So, all the deaths to date, again generally speaking, have been from patients whose case was registered on, around, or before April 8.  At that point the total case load was around 1.5 million (you can check this for yourself easily on the Worldometers web page by examining the interactive blue line in the graph).  So, the rate of ~160,000 deaths from ~1.5 million total cases works out to be around 10.5 %.

What does this tell us?  Well, we now have figures for the upper and lower bounds of the rate of death calculated on both the total cases and closed cases methods (these, I should remind, are the simple methods and could be refined further), giving us a range of 10.5% through to 21%.  Neither of these figures you will find published anywhere in officialdom (as far as I know). 

I would suggest that because the ratios between total cases, active cases, closed cases, deaths, recoveries, mild active cases and critical active cases have, for many weeks now, been stable at the rates published on Worldometers, we can safely assume that these death rate boundaries will hold at least for as long as the peak of case growth has not been reached and perhaps for longer than that.

There is one more thing we can see that would strengthen that expectation.  We now have three quarters of a million closed cases.  All of those cases, I’ll use the rider again ‘generally speaking’, would have been registered prior to April 8 at which point there were 1.5 million total cases.  Therefore, of the original 1.5 million cases of COVID-19, 50% have now been closed (you would have expected that of course, but isn’t it nice to have the figures confirm that?).Taking this one step further, can we assume the remaining 50% still in recovery (most of which I suggest would be from little more than 3 weeks prior to April 8) will resolve on the same lines as the already closed 50%?  I suggest not.  I think most of the deaths from this group will already have taken place – although I have only intuitive evidence this is the case.  Ok, we can therefore add this three quarter of a million to the already recovered current figure of ~600,000 – on the assumption that they will all eventually recover – to give a recovered total of  ~1,350.000 and a closed cases total of a little over 1,500,000 – which is, incidentally, more than 65% of all known cases to date.

Would it not be reasonable then to suggest that this 65% of all currently known cases would be representative of all eventual cases and allow us to calculate a likely death rate for all current and future cases? Yes, I know there are a lot of assumptions in there, but reasonable assumptions in my opinion – or all we have to go on at the moment.

So, my final calculation for closed cases, using the revised total closed cases based on the assumptions used above, surprise, surprise, is exactly the same calculation as used earlier for the total cases rate – ~160,000 deaths from the revised ~1.5 million closed cases – or 10.5%. This then is what I think will be the end result for the COVID-19 death rate – perhaps a little over but not under 10.5%.

Well, that was interesting – for me at least.

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