Why can’t the Germans be more like us?

And now for the previous post, in reverse.

Germany locked down at about the same time as the UK. Actually probably a couple of days earlier, according to Wikipedia and Flaxman et al. Picking a single date is a bit subjective really, but for the purposes of this post I’ll choose the 21st March. So why are they doing so much better than the UK? Well, the main reason is just that they were at a much earlier stage in their epidemic. On the 23rd, the UK had had 508 deaths. On the 21st, Germany was at 47. So that’s a factor of about 10. They were about 9 or 10 days behind us in terms of where they were on the upslope. 10 days ahead of our lockdown, Vallance was saying we had to be careful of not clamping down too soon. What would have happened if the Germans had waited a week?

This is of course quite an easy calculation to do. I can fit the model as before, and then run a simulation with the lockdown date delayed a week. Here it is, looking roughly similar to the post I just did for the UK, except this time the blue line goes higher due to locking down later. Sorry for over-writing the lockdown dates. Never mind. They are 21 and 28 March.


Playing the same game as before, sliding the blue graph along by a week (backwards this time) and then dividing it by 4…and it hits the magenta one again, and even has the same small mismatch due to a hint of herd immunity at the right hand edge. Once again, the doubling time I get from the fit is 3.5 days so delaying by a week would have quadrupled the death toll. These total death tolls are the integral all the way down the slope off the end of the graph, by the way, which is why the total both here and in the previous post is a bit higher than the current number.

germany_14_may_delay2It would still have been a little bit less than ours, but it would have been close. Good to know we can still beat the Germans at something.

As for why our total is only about 5x the German one rather than the factor of 10 that we had on our lockdown day…mostly just the random deviations from the exponential slope at the start. By early April (and therefore too soon for it to have been a result of the policy) the ratio in death totals was only 6, and it’s stayed close to that ever since. Their lockdown also seems to have been a bit more effective, in terms of the estimated Rt value. Probably they didn’t have the same care home fiasco which is currently fuelling our outbreak.

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