On March 26, I asked “Number of new COVID-19 cases worldwide is declining now?”
I’ve been updating that post daily with numbers from WHO and Massachusetts. Neither sequence seems consistent with frightening exponential growth (maybe the worldwide data shows an exponent larger than 1, but not all that much larger). Massachusetts does seem to be experiencing a flat-to-down trend in new cases, though without the strong upward trend in testing that I would have expected.
Maybe this is because all of the world’s governments had the foresight to put everyone into “lockdown”? (Exchanging germs only when at essential jobs, when at essential shops (such as liquor and marijuana stores), when at the laundromat, when on a Tinder date, etc.) The WHO data don’t show a dramatic difference between otherwise comparable countries that have radically different rules (Sweden has fewer cases per capita than Denmark, for example, despite Sweden being open for business while Denmark is purportedly locked down. Norway has twice as many cases per capita than Sweden, albeit fewer deaths so maybe they are just testing more of the mild cases) . More importantly, the WHO data don’t seem to show coronavirus burning exponentially through any country, regardless of what the policy might be (even Brazil, which has chosen “immunity via sewage”).
(This is not to suggest that a declining number of cases will cheer anyone up. On March 17, we were looking at the potential for 2.2 million Americans to die from coronaplague (Business Insider), based on Imperial College forecasts. Now a forecast of 100,000 to 200,000 deaths is “grim”, “stark”, and “dire” (Associated Press). Nobody will say “That’s fewer than are killed by medical errors each year and we don’t bother taking any action to reduce those.” Nobody will say “We’ve killed way more than that with taxpayer-funded Medicaid-reimbursed opioids.”)
Readers: What do you think? Given the increased testing capability that countries have been building and the numbers from the WHO, it is possible that the number of new daily coronavirus cases is actually on the decline?
- “Denmark eyes gradual reopening after Easter if coronavirus numbers stabilize” (Reuters; following the advice of Professor of Epidemiology Donald Trump?)
- “HOW DO WE FLATTEN THE CURVE ON PANIC?” (from Professor of Epidemiology Ann Coulter, 3/25/2020): “But even when the time is right — by Easter, June or the fall — there will be no one to stop the quarantine because the media will continue to hype every coronavirus death, as if these are the only deaths that count and the only deaths that were preventable.”