COVID-19 Update, May 15, 2020

I am interested only in global statistics relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. National statistics are quite meaningless for comparison purposes other than against the background of the global situation due to the wide variability of national social and other conditions and population levels.

So, the world reached a total of 300,000 COVID-19 deaths yesterday, three days later than I originally expected.  A definite bending of the orange graph line is now discernible in the image to account for that delay.  I need to see a further data point, say 400,000 deaths, before I can comment further on whether this is a natural feature of what will eventually become a horizontal line after all case growth has ceased, or just a temporary aberration.  That such an aberration is possible I conclude from the fact that the blue case line is still proceeding in an arrow straight upward direction.  Which will see a total of 5 million cases reached in another 5-6 days under current conditions.

The current facts can lead to two possible conclusions on the death rate.  The first being that the virus is weakening.  This is kind of supported by the fact that serious/critical active cases are down to 2% from a regular 4% over previous weeks.  The other possibility is that deaths are being viewed more critically (there could be many reasons for that) resulting in some deaths now being attributed to other causes.  I’m not saying either/both of those cases is actually occurring.  If they are, I’m sure someone else will recognise and confirm that in due course.

400,000 deaths? I previously said around 22 May. That’s not now going to happen. It will be at least 2 weeks from yesterday plus perhaps the extra 3 days. Let’s say May 31.

Whatever the case, COVID-19 deaths may yet surprise us with a sharp upswing arising from the increased case-load expected to be produced by the loosening of movement restrictions occasioned by the opening of national economies over the next few weeks.  There may be a second wave of the pandemic, of potentially greater virility.  Or there may not.

Whatever the case, again, the fact that we will soon reach a 5 million case total, and who knows at this point if there will yet be many millions more, we will almost certainly see a 500,000 (half million) total deaths from all cases up to that point.  I said previously this would be a mid June feature.  I’m going to adjust that prediction to a less precise second half June event, due to the uncertainty as to what is going on with deaths generally.

Just one more point.  While half a million COVID-19 deaths, and potentially many more in due course, may seem to be a tragedy (which it undoubtedly is for those affected), it is barely a blip on the natural course of human deaths year in, year out. To put this event in true perspective, If you take a look at the Worldometers population page you will see that there have been a number approaching 22 million deaths so far in 2020 and an expectancy of the regular annual total somewhere in the sixty millions range.  

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