Sunday, May 17, 2020

numbers crunched

I do wish I didn't have to do this, but ... desperate times ...

So by today, the official coronavirus related death toll in the UK is 34,636. Comparing it to 31855 on the 10th of May, the figure has gone up by 2781 in 7 days. So averaged over a week (which is necessary as there is a dip around the weekend), we have 397 new deaths per day.

Beyond the obvious and avoidable tragedy for everybody caught up in this, the figure spells disaster for a number of reasons:

* it is still limited by the scarcity of tests, so expect the real number to be significantly higher
* it means that on the order of magnitude of 40,000 new infections per day happened three weeks ago (in the middle of lockdown)
* which means way too many infections still happening to allow any thought of going back to normal
* it hasn't gone down in the last three days, making things worse
* it only has 2 more weeks to drop further before the "stay alert" mess kicks in, and it won't go far in that time.

The figure has been dropping an average of 20% per week over the last couple of weeks, so if this trend continues despite the apparent stagnation in the last three days, we'll be at 250 average daily deaths at the beginning of June. Which is when the effect of the loosening of measures at the beginning of this week will show up in the death tolls, and they might rise again, or if we're lucky they will ony stagnate or drop more slowly.

Let's say they choose the middle way and stay more or less the same (R=1), so we'll be living with 250 people dying per day and 25,000 people getting infected per day until somebody does something about it. This situation will be workable in terms of hospital capacity, but not a good place to be in. And not easy to get out of either.


The British Medical Journal on the failings of the UK govt response to the pandemic: Too little, too late, too flawed

(Correction made 17.5.: initial version said 250 deaths per day "at the end of June" - I meant beginning of June, i.e. 3 weeks after the May 11 Stay Alert phase.)

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