Wicked Brazilians will take the place of the wicked Swedes in forecasts of doom?

The Swedes who refused to lock down were the previous favorite targets of “scientists” and the media armed with forecasts of doom (see https://philip.greenspun.com/blog/2020/05/24/did-doom-visit-the-swedes-yesterday-as-planned/ for example). Now that the Swedes are enjoying, unmasked, their summer and an abundance of UV light, the doomsayers need a new target. How about Brazil? They don’t have an effective lockdown and it is winter there. We all know the critical importance of national leadership whenever a virus is circulating and Brazil’s leader is an infidel with respect to the Church of Shutdown (“‘Death is everyone’s destiny’: Bolsonaro’s words of comfort”).

Here’s the June 10, 2020 IHME forecast:

On August 4, Brazilians will be dying at the rate of 5,248 per day and the rate of death will be accelerating. They will need 57,639 ICU beds and will have just 4,060 to go around.

Who wants to predict the actual numbers for Brazil? Keep in mind that the population is 210 million, so the number of deaths will be dramatic compared to what the typical European nation experiences.

I will go first. My perspective is a “scientific” one. In other words, I will look at one or two data points and then extrapolate wildly. From the chart below, it looks like the non-virtuous Brazilians have, by dint of doing nothing, already “flattened the curve” to a large extent. So my first scientific observation (i.e., guess) is that the death rate on August 4, 2020 will be roughly the same as it is today. On the other hand, the virus has already killed a lot of the easiest-to-kill Brazilians. Therefore, the number should be a little lower. On the third hand, General Winter is fighting alongside the coronavirus in parts of Brazil. If the latter two factors cancel out, the number of deaths tagged to Covid-19 in Brazil on August 4 should be 1,274 (the number from yesterday’s WHO report).

Readers: What’s the result of your own scientific analysis? Care to use the comments for a prediction regarding August 4, 2020?

Follow-up post: https://philip.greenspun.com/blog/2020/08/05/how-is-coronaplague-down-in-brazil-and-the-rest-of-the-ihme-predictions/

24 thoughts on “Wicked Brazilians will take the place of the wicked Swedes in forecasts of doom?

  1. I have previously hypothesized that Wuhan Flu death rates are primarily attributable to 1) High per-capita health care spending. 2) Strong, inflexible, monolithic political edicts in how to fight the virus.

    I have also said that the current scientific mindset is inadequate in understanding this situation — Covid-19 is a lipstick smear from the kiss of the angel of death.

    So I expect dead Brazilians to rise up from the grave in the next few months.

    • We will record that as a prediction of -1 deaths for purposes of determination bragging rights.

  2. I am putting my money on Phil. He has been right about the Coronapanic more than most anyone since early March. He early on picked up on the fact that the numbers from the Diamond Princess were not in accord with the official line. Maybe when Anthony Fauci retires and writes his autobiography about how he and the forces of science stood up to the evil Trumpenfuhrer & locked the whole country up for months (except for those American who wanted to riot — for the right causes) Phil can take over.

    • Jack: No fair! We need a number from you so we can see, on August 4/5, who had the best guess!

    • I will therefore guess the average of the two of you. MIT EECS generational battle royale: (1,164 + 1,274) / 2 = 1,219.

      1,219 people will die in Brazil from COVID-19 on August 4, 2020.

      I am doing no weighting for differences in age, or the fact that you are using much less computing power to arrive at your guess.

    • Alan: if you’re correct with this low number, even if there are no policy changes I will argue that I was actually correct, but that Brazil went into a variant form of “lockdown” and that’s why my model failed. I will say that Brazilians switched from Samba to Jongo, for example, and that was an example of the Religion of Shutdown and it cut the transmission rate.

    • Philg – claiming correctness when wrong by a factor of four – too bad your parents didn’t inoculate you against self-awareness, you could have had a great career in government.

      I haven’t done the factor analysis but I speculate the key factor in my model for Brazil is the immunity that comes from long standing exchange of bodily fluids between bats and humans in that country.

  3. I’ll take the over – 1,275. So, philg will have to be very precise to win.

  4. If 12/3500 died from the Diamond Princess, then we might expect ~650k/200M over the duration of the pandemic. If it takes 2 years to do its thing, that’s 900/day average. Let’s estimate it the curve peaks just after august at a rate of 4x the avg (and this means the rate is generally much lower than the average) – or 3600.

    Let’s discount for the fact cruise ship demographics trend “vulnerable” and discount some more for citizens taking some non-mandatory measures to flatten (like breathe through a sweaty bandana sometimes) and consider a the somewhat lesser population density acts to delay the curve a bit. Maybe we call that 20% discounts on all three counts

    = 1800

    • ajm: This is an awesome analysis! Thank you. If this works we can write it up for the Journal of Doing Science From One Data Point”.

    • My institution canceled its subscription once the computer science department decided “who needs symbolic reasoning when you can get boat loads of data.”

      this once proud field is making a come back, though, since now we are using neural networks to generate entire data sets when seeded with a single data point. As far as I know, this is becoming hugely popular amongst epidemiologists.

  5. I’ll go with the IHME model, derated 50% for people wearing masks more, let’s say 2.5k

    They’ve got the best quality javascript widget for plotting their model that I’ve seen so far. And we know that high production values in the UI means accurate data behind the scenes!

    • Henry: Why do you have faith in masks? Our own state became Maskachusetts on May 6 by order of the governor. I don’t see any discontinuity in the number of daily deaths or infections, do you? https://www.masslive.com/coronavirus/data/

      If masks are highly effective, shouldn’t we see some kind of effect after May 6?

  6. My assumption it will fizzle our even more. My prediction is 300. Definitely less than 900.

  7. I think there is a relation between masks and transmission. The ‘everyone close their business” directive also has a relation to transmission. So for a while everyone avoided the supermarket and bars and restaurants and DMV, and then as people start congregating again, they are also wearing masks, so we should see about the same level of transmission with masks as we see with ‘lockdown’ without them.

    The virus has to get physically from one person to another via a mist from exhaling, mainly from talking or coughing, so either staying away from everyone entirely or making them wear some kind of spit shield, even a gauzy single layer of fabric, to prevent broadcasting virus should be equally effective.

  8. While nothing about Brazil is that effective, they did lock down. It is true that the President was even more vocal in his opposition to the lockdowns than was Trump. However, in Brazil, as with the United States (the Brazilians copied their system from us), these matters are decided by the state governments, and they all locked down.

    • Ed: interesting! The only time Brazil gets mentioned in our media is for the president’s rejection of the Church of Shutdown. If they are actually practicing the Religion of Shutdown, why are they forecast to have the same number of deaths as if they hadn’t done anything other than the most obvious responses (isolating elder care facilities and the sick, temperature checks, canceling mass gatherings)?

  9. I think the pattern is quite clear here: after the peak it is a log-linear descent, with always the same slope. No need for science or following news… (Italy has a step there, they probably transitioned to a different counting method.)
    So, extrapolating for Brazil, which looks like being at the peak, to 130 days, which would be beginning of August in that case, and adjust for population, I arrive at 300 “daily new confirmed COVID-19 deaths”. Turns out SK already bet that, so I’ll go for 299.
    Is that the lowest bet yet?

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