COVID-19 Update – April 27, 2020

Coronavirus has reached 3 million cases.  Well, almost, and certainly will later today.  Check link: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

I’m reporting this today because tomorrow I may be otherwise engaged.  I’m having a new glass front-end put on my house.  Well, I call it a house but it is really an immobilised caravan trailer with an attached annexe and a roofed verandah across the front which I have just had closed in on one side (to cover the fact that it is a caravan), giving me another small external room, and opened up the verandah on the other side to display my new glass panel front with double centre-opening glass doors with tinted double glazing.  I just needed to see more of the world, without the world too easily seeing me.  Anyway, all that could see me unable to blog tomorrow, perhaps.

So, COVID-19.  After two and a half months of hard slog accompanied by wild and speculative reporting, inaction, inappropriate action, disbelief and hysteria, where following a snail pace beginning and latterly a sudden upswing that has not so far shown any signs of stopping or altering its trajectory, the world reached its first 1 million registered cases of the disease on April 2. Less than two weeks later – 2 million cases on April 14.  And now, exactly 2 weeks after that – 3 million on April 27.

With that blue line, see graph, remaining steady as a rock and straight as an arrow, it doesn’t take much of a risk to say that in little more than another 2 weeks we will be talking of 4 million cases.

Incidentally, if that blue line appears to have leaned a little to the right since yesterday, that is not an optical illusion.  It is because they have compressed the vertical axis to now include the 4 million target.

The fact that the blue line has not materially changed during April should tell us that we should expect similar diagnostics on the progress of the disease as before.  And that is actually born out by the figures.

Two weeks ago I saw that the COVID-19 case load could be split into three equal groups of 750,000 each.  The groups being – (1) old cases not really active any more but not yet moved to ‘closed’,  (2) truly active cases from which all near future deaths would emerge, and (3) fully closed cases.  I also said that the edges of these groups would be blurred because, well, folk are folk, and act much like cats when any attempt is made to herd them into groups, but generally speaking those figures were reasonably accurate. 

Today we have the same three groups (you wouldn’t expect anything different) which have now grown to 1 million in each group.  If you dispute that, I suggest you look at the explanation which follows.  

Take the first million cases, all arising before the beginning of April.  You wouldn’t expect anyone else from that group to die of the disease now or later would you?  And with something like a three week recovery period you would expect most of them to have now made it into the closed cases category – which coincidentally also now stands at a little over a million.  So far, so good.

Now let’s look at the active cases. Two million of them.  But half of them, the second million cases to be registered during the first half of April, by now should also have largely ceased to produce any deaths (which are said to mostly occur within the first 10 days or so of the illness) and the rest will be well on the way to recovery.  So, some of them are already in the closed deaths total and the rest will gradually ove the next week or so also drift into the closed recovered total.  The active cases category is a temporary status, much like a doctor’s waiting room where you hang around – separated from the rest of the unaffected world – waiting to find out if you are going to get better or not. Its numbers should not be used in any calculation pertaining to enduring outcomes. All I am doing is shifting these ‘non-active actives’ folk over to the closed cases category right now, since they are really not productively ‘active’ (productively in the sense of ‘dying’), those of them who would have died already having done so.  This leaves only the million cases arising in the past two weeks in the active list as truly active and it is mostly from this group that the next surge of deaths will occur over the next couple of weeks.  Does that make sense?

So, finally, what I really wanted to find is has the expected death rate changed?  All of the above should tell us that along with everything else that has not altered, the death rate will also not have altered – no matter how we calculate it (using basic methods of course).  

With the adjusted closed case figures of 2 million or a little over (actually closed plus non-active actives), and close to 207,000 deaths, it comes to ~10.35%. A little less than the 10.5% previously.

With the total cases calculation, we can see that the true total cases as at 2 weeks ago – when all (or most) cases producing so far counted deaths had been registered, was the 2 million of April 14 (I will repeat in case any reader has not been following this earlier – you can’t accurately compare deaths from a shorter period with total cases from a different larger period). Thus producing the same result of ~10.35% as for closed cases.

Can we see a reason for that decrease?  We can, and it is in the death rate shown on the Worldometers page (see image), which has recently dropped from 20% to 19%.  This indicates that there have not been so many deaths in the second million cases.  Or perhaps more accurately, some countries (UK for example) have recently found and added more cases that should rightly have been included in the first million cases.  I suggest these would be mostly recovered cases and any deaths from among them already counted – meaning the death rate from that first million should actually have been slightly lower (more recoveries).

We must expect such discrepances to continue but not let that deter us from checking on the progress of the disease from the figures we do have.  I have already said that I expect the death rate to moderate as more cases are closed – but not by much, and perhaps we are now seeing, in  a little over 10%, something that will not materially alter.

Just to put this in perspective, we now have, from 2 million (adjusted) closed cases, just over 200,000 deaths (10.35%).  In 2 weeks time we expect to see 4 million cases in total, from which, on what we now know, we can expect to eventually see double the current number, that is more than 400,000 deaths.

How many 2 week periods can we expect to see where the disease continues to progress at the same velocity as it currently does?  That is something to which I would not dare project a value.  All I am prepared to say on that is that there is no material cause to believe that this thing is in any wise slowing down – no matter what national/world leaders would tell us or wish to happen in order to save their national economies and the global economy.  To which they (most of them) obviously ascribe a value much higher than they value your life. 

Make your own decisions. Do what you must to preserve yourself and those you love.      

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