Positive and negative

I have been doing a lot of data analysis and modelling recently, drawing lots of figures like the ones in my previous post or below. I enjoy my work (although it can be very frustrating at times) and I enjoy maths, statistics and numbers (I know, I am a sad person). So, I have actually been enjoying working on coronavirus data.

Until something hit me yesterday. The UK Prime Minister is in intensive care with the virus and there was some uncertainty whether he is on the ventilator or not. I do not agree with him on a political or moral plane, but I suddenly had a face to one of my numbers. More, I suddenly realised that according to the numbers I had been looking at, he has a 50% chance of dying if he ends up on a ventilator. I had this very strong thought that I desperately want him to survive.

I think this is a sober thought. It is easy to hide behind figures and numbers and lose their meaning. But the work on epidemics means that each figure or number has a meaning. And the meaning is of life or death.

On a positive note, there seems to be continuing evidence that Italy and Spain are slowing down, Austria and possibly Denmark and Czechia are thinking of relaxing the regulations, and even the UK and the US are not growing as fast as they were few days ago. Possibly, the actions are making a dent.

These are slightly different plots than last time, as they show new cases and deaths every day, but similarly, the start is at the left bottom corner and the end (meaning yesterday) is where the point is. If the line goes up, it means there are more and more cases every day. If the line is horizontal, it means the numbers can still be increasing, but slowly (by the same number every day). If the line goes down, we are still seeing new cases or deaths, but the everyday increase is getting smaller.

So a ‘peak’ (like a top of the hill) in this plot is not a real ‘peak’ in cases but is a good indication that we are on the right trajectory. The ‘top of the hill’ will come later but it is difficult to say how far away that is.

Note how long it took for China to lower the numbers. This possibly supports one of our scenarios in a recent The Conversation article on ‘Four graphs that show how the coronavirus pandemic could now unfold‘.

Cases are a better indication of what happens now; death records are delayed by a week or more but are more reliable.