Sunday, March 08, 2020

Coronavirus 7

This is the seventh in my series of bloglets on Covid-19. (Click on links in panel to right for earlier episodes.) Over the last month I've tried to emphasise the uncertainties while making clear the possibilities of bad outcomes. With each day that passes the probability of good outcomes has faded and the probability distribution has looked more skewed to the bad end.

Earlier to day I tweeted a few figures from the UK:

Big caveat: we don't really know how well the reported cases reflect the actual cases. That said...
03/03/2020 51
04/03/2020 87
05/03/2020 116
06/03/2020 164
07/03/2020 209
08/03/2020 273
What is the doubling time?
It takes about 26 doublings to go from one to 67 million.

The doubling time question was rhetorical. There is such unreliability in the figures, particularly in as much as we don't know how many mild cases of infection are going unrecorded, that there is little point in trying to derive a precise number, but suffice it to say it looks like a few days rather than a few weeks of months.
Our politicians (remember the Prime Minister was happy to declare he had been shaking hands with everyone in the hospital) have been woefully slow to move from 'containment' to 'delay'.
The news coming from Italy is not encouraging. The infection there seems to be running at about a fortnight ahead of the UK. 
That gives us an opportunity. Government might be wise to act now on the basis of data that we can expect to see in a fortnight's time, rather than to wait until that data arrives.  Significant delay is going to be best achieved by acting ahead of the curve, rather than in response to the curve.
Delay is important as it spreads the workload of the NHS. That is life-critical.


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