More on COVID-19, and a little Heuristics

I want to add a few more points to what I said yesterday in my post on The Virus and to aid this, while the numbers have obviously now moved on, I am also sharing the same image of the situation as at yesterday.

It turns out, as I was thinking about this before starting my day today, that yesterday was a rather serendipitous moment to have chosen to take another look at the COVID-19 numbers.  I didn’t realise this or plan it, how could I, not realising the significance of the moment (which even today would not have been anywhere near so obvious) until I was deep into looking at the situation.

I can, I think, now more clearly (and briefly) outline what that significance is and what I found.

Yesterday there were approximately two and a quarter million (2,250,000) COVID-19 registered cases globally.  This total at that time, I came to realise while working on it, could be neatly split into three equal groups –

750,000 closed cases

750,000 old cases (more than three weeks old) – still active

750,000 new cases (having been registered in the last three weeks) – the truly active cases

I also came to realise that, of the old cases, there were likely to be no more deaths – all deaths arising from this group having occurred prior to or within the first 10 days of the last three weeks – and so all these remaining ‘old’ cases would recover (or die from some other, unrelated cause) and could therefore be considered to be effectively closed (for the purpose of calculating a death rate for COVID-19).

I already knew that if we wanted to look at death rates based on total cases then it had to be the total case numbers as at the time the current deaths had all been registered as COVID-19 cases ie. at least 10 days ago – at which time there were only 1,500,000 total cases.  I then realised there was a reasonable probability that all those cases fit neatly into the first two groups of 750,000 listed above – the closed and the old cases. Actually, the other way around – the closed and old cases fitting neatly into the past total cases – one has to be so careful as to the language used so as to not misrepresent the intent – something I don’t always get right.

So we now had two equal groups against which to compare the current death count. Those being firstly the total cases,  found to be the 1,500,000 cases registered by the same stage that all the cases resulting in death had also been registered (and included in that total), and secondly all the closed cases, adjusted to include all the old cases still listed as active – a total also of 1,500,000.

So, whether we look at total cases (appropriately adjusted) or closed cases (appropriately adjusted), we find a single simultaneous result from both viewpoints.  And it comes out to be a rate of ~10.5% for the global death rate from COVID-19 at this point. And that is based on the outcomes or expected outcomes of around two thirds of all cases to date.

Let me say this, the linear progression of the daily addition of new cases will eventually slow down and the blue line in the imaged graph will swing to the right.  It will never swing downwards of course but will end up at some point higher than it is now.  Hopefully, that point will not be too much higher, but it could be.  Why would we assume that subsequent cases of The Virus would act on the global population any differently than in the two thirds of current cases? Why would we assume that the current death rate at any future time will be any different than it is today?

Finally, the number of new cases of The Virus has averaged around 80,000 a day for some time now (which is why the blue line has been more or less straight).  The thought occurred to me that the global population has been increasing by around 80,000,000 every year (another linear progression) for around 50 years now and will reach a total of 8 billion in less than 3 years (barring unforseen destabilising influences).  The number ‘8’ features in all of these cases.  Is that significant?  Are we reaching peak ‘8’s?  Is this perhaps why the number ‘8’ is traditionally considered to be a significant or ‘lucky’ number by the Chinese?  Does this presume any significance for the role to be played by China in our human communal future? 

Just asking.

…not so ‘briefly’ after all. Sorry.

End Note:

My method of problem solving, such as I used in this and also many other often profound and unrelated life issues, is neither scientific nor based on wild guesswork, but on life experience and what has worked in the past. These things fall generally under the heading of what is known as heuristic reasoning or simply heuristics.

We all use, or at least the rational among us use, heuristic thinking every day. I formally learned of heuristics during my (interrupted and discontinued) studies with The Open University back in the ’70s of the last century and have found the various techniques to be vastly useful and utilitarian throughout my life since then.

A useful and fairly expressed article on heuristics can be found in Wikipedia here: Beware of many such online discourses which tend to decry the usefulness of the heuristic method as being biased or error-prone. Without heuristic reasoning, life would be both confusing and intolerable (as many folk find it to beand as delights those in the psychoanalytic professions). I urge you to expand and trust that faculty in your own life. You will know what works and what doesn’t, and you will develop some trusted techniques of your own. It’s not Einstein stuff – though Einstein stuff does also have a useful role in life.

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