A week ago, I blogged the graph on the left. Last night, one of the epidemiological modelling teams advising the Govt published the graph on the right. Billed as “new research”, it has formed the basis of the new Govt guidelines on social distancing to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Apart from the choice of colours, probably the most significant difference appears to be that I explicitly considered the possibility that we might increase our healthcare capacity over time (the green line rising in the left plot), whereas the modellers in Imperial College did not (the red line along near the x-axis).

The contrast between these two sets of projections of the epidemic, and the fatuous “flatten the curve” plots that I discussed here is stark. While my calculation was relatively trivial, it’s good enough to indicate that hoping to “flatten the curve” sufficiently to cope with the full progression of an epidemic is foolish at best.

Its very curious to me that the IC research has been billed as “new science” that justifies a new approach from the Govt. All the underlying data has been known for weeks, months even. The Editor of the Lancet is one of those who has been particularly vocal in pointing this out,

also here

and a horde of twitterati have been saying the same.

It would be interesting to know what has really changed. Is it just that the Govt realised that its genocidal policy of “taking it on the chin” wouldn’t be acceptable once people realised the consequential death toll?

One remaining problem with the IC research is their use of the standard mortality rate of about 1% overall that makes no attempt to account for the obviously deleterious effect of running out of hospital beds. If 15% require intensive care, and it’s not available, it is ludicrous to believe that only the same 1% will die.

Sloppy of journalists to not query this more forensically.

4 thoughts on “Snap

  1. Not trying to get into an argument, mind you. But what has happened in South Korea and China to date?

    I’m seeing really big numbers for the USA, millions of fatalities even. A 15% rate of severe affects (tens of millions assuming most of our population get COVID-19).

    So where are those really big numbers? To date, we are still less then 10,000 fatalities globally. It would appear that China and South Korea have already peaked …

  2. I believe what has happened is heavy testing, follow-up and quarantining of contacts of cases. I saw a figure of 1800 teams, each of 5 people, doing this work in China. And of course the temporary lock-down in Wuhan in order to get on top of it The disease simply hasn’t been pursued that seriously in the west up to now. Big question as to whether “non-extreme” social distancing can be sufficiently effective to stop the spread here, and whether a proper lockdown is sustainable for long enough to regain control.

  3. So, the question remains, did someone’s clock stop in 1918?. These are not even order of magnitude calculations, they are more like ORDERS of magnitude calculations.

    Sort of like Hansen’s doubling time calculations for sea level rise circa 2015/2016. Make a really bad guess, get as really bad result.

    IMHO, that new paper is grossly incorrect, in drawing curves and holding beds static, for example. It isn’t even mildly interesting, as in it is saying nothing will work, see our curves based on nutbar assumptions.

    “Last, while experience in China and now South Korea show that suppression is possible in the short term, it remains to be seen whether it is possible long-term, and whether the social and economic costs of the interventions adopted thus far can be reduced.”

    Well d’oh, no SHIT!

    As the WHO states TEST, TEST, TEST! That is what we know has worked in China and South Korea to date.

    Italy (and Iran if they can be trusted) is the very next country to look at. There we need dailies, new cases, new deaths, new cured, for every single day, in the past, now and in the future..

    Bottom line? We do need actuals and strategies that have worked to date. We already know that these stratifies work. We do have that data to date.

    Heck, I’m in two risk categories, take Xanax (twice a day even), have more or less practiced social distancing my entire life. But I still get the common cold. And if I die then so be it.

    The only good thing that will come out of all this IMHO? Just another really big nail in Trumpkin’s so-called coffin come November.

  4. People don’t necessarily change horse in the middle of a crisis. I wouldn’t bank on this costing Trump votes. Though predicting the future is hard at the best of times 🙂

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