Covid-19 projections may be high, but measures may have helped

Modeled projections of numbers of deaths from Covid-19, even modified and moderated projections after more stringent restrictions were increasingly put in place around the world, seem a bit high at this stage, but it’s hard to know what will happen months away or in a year as ongoing bounce backs are expected as restrictions are lifted.

It may be that ‘worst case’ and even more moderate projections spurred governments and health authorities to pull out all stops (or a lot of stops) to limit the spread of the virus and to substantially ramp up health care supplies and facilities. This will have had some impact, but it’s impossible to know how much.

New Zealand seems to have got off relatively lightly. In proportion to population we have a similar case rate as Australia, but we have just one death to date, and Australia now has 48. Australia has had fairly tight restrictions but not as comprehensive as New Zealand.

A week ago US projections were for 100,000-240,000 deaths, but there is a more optimistic but undefined view now, even as the death rate increases at over a thousand a day. The current total is 12.274 which is well short of projections, but the death toll has doubled in less than a week, with 1,255 yesterday and already 1,522 1,681 1,821 1,934 so far today.

The US continues to have about a third of the daily world increase in cases, and a quarter of the daily increase in deaths.

Nearly half of the deaths have been in New York, which may be simply because the virus took hold there in a big way sooner than many other parts of the US. Despite a record number of deaths in the last day things may be plateauing in New York: New York’s Cuomo sees coronavirus plateau approaching even as daily death toll hits high

New York state, the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus, is nearing a plateau in number of patients hospitalized, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday, a hopeful sign even as deaths in his state and neighboring New Jersey hit single-day highs.

In addition, the U.S. surgeon general said the pandemic may kill fewer Americans than had been projected.

New York state’s death toll rose by 731 to 5,489 over the past day, Cuomo said, though he called that a “lagging indicator” illustrating past trends. He said the state was “projecting that we are reaching a plateau in the total number of hospitalizations” due to the coronavirus.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said his state recorded 232 coronavirus deaths in the past day – also a new high – bringing its total death toll to 1,232.

New York state overtook Italy on Tuesday, reporting overall coronavirus cases second in the world only to Spain, according to a Reuters tally.

The tally showed New York has 138,836 reported cases compared with Italy at 135,586. Spain has the most cases at 140,510. In total, the United States has recorded 380,000 cases and 11,800 deaths.

Deaths in Italy and Spain seem to have steadied for now but both are still around 600-700 a day.

The death rate in France is climbing fast, with 833 yesterday but a surge to 1,417 so far today with their current total now over 10,000. And France’s Covid pandemic has not yet peaked, says health minister

“We are still in a worsening phase of the pandemic,” Véran told broadcaster BFM TV. He also said that the country’s lockdown would last as long as necessary.

France’s coronavirus figures on Monday showed that the rate of increase in fatalities – at almost 9,000 – sped up again after several days of slowing.

Neighbouring Belgium has also surged with 403 deaths today.

While the news focus in the UK is Boris Johnson breathing without aid in intensive care the overall picture is worsening, with 439 deaths yesterday and 786 so far today.

And there’s another study: UK will have Europe’s worst coronavirus death toll, study predicts

World-leading disease data analysts have projected that the UK will become the country worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, accounting for more than 40% of total deaths across the continent.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle predicts 66,000 UK deaths from Covid-19 by August, with a peak of nearly 3,000 a day, based on a steep climb in daily deaths early in the outbreak.

The analysts also claim discussions over “herd immunity” led to a delay in the UK introducing physical distancing measures, which were brought in from 23 March in England when the coronavirus death toll stood at 54. Portugal, by comparison, had just one confirmed death when distancing measures were imposed.

But:

The newly released data is disputed by scientists whose modelling of the likely shape of the UK epidemic is relied on by the government. Prof Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College, said the IHME figures on “healthcare demand” – including hospital bed use and deaths – were twice as high as they should be.

These studies are informed guesses in a rapidly changing environment, so they will need to keep being revised.

But most news is still of significant problems. Europe toll passes 50,000 as Japan declares emergency

Europe has passed the grim milestone of 50,000 Covid-19 deaths and Japan has declared a state of emergency to curb the virus’s spread, as China declared no new fatalities for the first time since January and lifted the 11-week lockdown of Wuhan.

While Denmark and Norway announced plans to lift some of their physical distancing measures on Tuesday, the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, declared a month-long state of emergency in major population centres, including Tokyo, where the number of cases has more than doubled this week to 1,116.

While studies and projections will continue to make predictions and be contested and debated, two things are not in doubt.

Numbers of cases and numbers of deaths will continue to grow around the world.

And Covid-19 will dominate news and government actions for months at least.

It’s just a matter of how bad and for how long.


Relevant to this: Adjusted coronavirus model predicts fewer people in US will need hospitals, but 82,000 will still die by August

An influential model tracking the coronavirus pandemic in the United States now predicts that fewer people will die and fewer hospital beds will be needed compared to its estimates from last week.

As of Monday, the model predicted the virus will kill 81,766 people in the United States over the next four months, with just under 141,000 hospital beds being needed. That’s about 12,000 fewer deaths — and 121,000 fewer hospital beds — than the model estimated on Thursday.

A “massive infusion of new data” led to the adjustments, according to the model’s maker, Dr. Christopher Murray, who serves as director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

But the newest version of the model underscores just how important social distancing continues to be: It assumes that those measures — such as closing schools and businesses — will continue until August, and it still predicts tens of thousands of deaths.

While the analysis has been repeatedly cited by Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, the administration’s current guidelines only recommend social distancing through April 30.

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40 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  8th April 2020

    Our NZ data is very messy from all these factors:
    1. Changing policies and practices
    2. Restricted and targeted testing
    3. Incoming cases
    4. Differing treatment of known and unknown cases
    5. Merging of confirmed and probable cases
    6. Apparent changes to “probable” case definitions.
    7. Not enough data to unscramble all this.

    We are still flying blind at this point I think.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  8th April 2020

      Yes, the ‘probables’ are a bit puzzling. Do we know from Bloomfield’s daily updates whether he is giving the number of new probables per day, or are they a running total?

      I’m not aware of any other countries reporting on ‘probables’. I don’t see why he tells us these because presumably they move either into the positive or negative test results eventually.

      Reply
      • I think that case totals vary a lot from country to country, partly due to the amount of measuring/testing done, and due to different definitions.

        Sane for deaths – it was recent;u found or claimed that France was only reporting Covid-19 deaths in hospitals and not if the occurred outside of hospitals. Similar for Italy.

        So the reliability of published numbers is suspect.

        Reply
      • David

         /  8th April 2020

        I am with you Gezza I think this probables score should be left unsaid, either that or state the probables that have gone confirmed or the other way and even then its bound to miss and make the numbers messy.
        I think its being done to bump up the numbers.

        Reply
    • duperez

       /  8th April 2020

      The main problem with data is people expecting clear and perfect pictures to emerge. Maths always has the beauty of finiteness.

      The beauty of data in the present situation is the infinite number of variables in play. And the infinite discussion and opinion emanting from that. Including the simple realities about base accuracy of what is put up.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  8th April 2020

        The main problem with data is people who misrepresent it usually without any acknowledgement of either the known unknowns or the unknown unknowns.

        Reply
  2. David

     /  8th April 2020

    There is some interesting stuff coming out. Apparently if you had the BCG injection you are at a lower risk when the maths is done on countries that had mass vaccination and those that dont, apparently there is a trial in Australia where they are giving it to health workers as a sort of prophylactic as it sends the immune system into high alert.
    In two regions of Italy where one said stay home if you can and the other told folk to come into hospital and 60% of people did compared with 20% in the other ended up with the hospital bound people dying in huge numbers, the amount of the dose you get has an effect on how ill you get.
    Trump touted hydroxychloroquine works better when combined with zinc, anecdotal at the moment but it looks promising although its mainly used on people at deaths door so maybe the global trials looking at prescribing earlier might help, very few side effects and its being widely used despite the media onslaught which I just cant get my head around. Cuomo is screaming for it but that is ignored.
    Remdesivir looks promising with global trials underway and Gilead being quite generous in handing it out free for trials and acute cases, it has to be given intravenously. Trump touted this one as well but the media dont seem too upset with this one.
    Other things like Interferon and anti HIV meds and lord knows how many others are being trialled…shouldnt be too long before America comes up with a treatment.

    Reply
  3. Pink David

     /  8th April 2020

    Some facts;

    1. There is no scientific evidence that the policies followed in the lockdown achieve anything worthwhile and there is scientific evidence that they are actually harmful.
    2. No one has attempted to establish if the virus was present in NZ prior to the idea of sealing NZ in was carried out, and they have still not made any attempt to do so,
    3. No one has demonstrated that C19 is in anyway significantly different to any other flu.
    4. NZ has a policy of elimination, yet NZ has completely failed to ‘stamp out’ far less infectious diseases in far more controllable populations despite investing hundreds of millions in doing so. Why will this be any different?

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  8th April 2020

      You say you are not domiciled here in NZ…how is your country of choice handling the situation?
      I guess you will not be returning…at least anytime ..soon.

      Reply
      • Pink David

         /  8th April 2020

        “You say you are not domiciled here in NZ…how is your country of choice handling the situation?”

        Slightly better. We are still working. Our NZ division is now going through the process of wage cuts and layoffs. Both will be severe. That will bite next week. I’ve cut my pay by 50% which will assist holding a couple more people employed, but that is dependent on future works and that is looking grim in NZ.

        “I guess you will not be returning…at least anytime ..soon.”

        Work is evaporating and if I returned I would simply be another inmate of Big Sister. No thanks. I still have significant assets and business in NZ, weathering that storm is going to hurt. I’ve already offered tenants two weeks free rent, as I see no assistance coming from the Government that will be significant, but I see a completely collapse in rents coming.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  8th April 2020

          ‘, but I see a completely collapse in rents coming.’…. rents maybe…those landlords are demanding Govt money.
          Can’t see a case for residential rents collapsing.

          Reply
          • Pink David

             /  8th April 2020

            “Can’t see a case for residential rents collapsing.”

            No immigration or tourism will mean a lot more property on the rental market.

            Reply
          • Pink David

             /  8th April 2020

            Also, widespread wage cuts coming.

            Reply
    • duperez

       /  8th April 2020

      There is no scientific evidence to show the stuff in the Bible is true. Or God. Bit it’s true. I know that because so many brainy people tell me it is. And powerful people too. Very powerful people. Even the American Vice President yesterday in a forum where all this scientific stuff was going on demonstrated it.

      Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  8th April 2020

      Good points which made me realise I had constrained my model to initial known cases. I’ll explore relaxing that.

      Reply
    • Griff.

       /  8th April 2020

      1. There is no scientific evidence that the policies followed in the lockdown achieve anything worthwhile and there is scientific evidence that they are actually harmful.

      There is plenty of evidence like what is happening in New York, Italy and Spain right now that letting this virus run rampant overloads the Hospital systems resulting in more deaths .
      Economics is not real science and you can never prove anything before the fact in science so the rest of this statement is stupid because it is not even wrong.

      2. No one has attempted to establish if the virus was present in NZ prior to the idea of sealing NZ in was carried out, and they have still not made any attempt to do so,

      We had a confirmed case from testing on 28 February so this is just nutbar denial of reality.

      3. No one has demonstrated that C19 is in anyway significantly different to any other flu.

      Again not even wrong. Covid 19 is not a type of influenza which is caused by a totally different family of viruses.

      4. NZ has a policy of elimination, yet NZ has completely failed to ‘stamp out’ far less infectious diseases in far more controllable populations despite investing hundreds of millions in doing so. Why will this be any different?

      When was the last time a NZ resident had polio, small pox or rubella?

      In short Pink Dave is just (deleted, don’t make accusations, address arguments. PG]

      Reply
      • Pink David

         /  8th April 2020

        “There is plenty of evidence like what is happening in New York, Italy and Spain right now that letting this virus run rampant overloads the Hospital systems resulting in more deaths .”

        Show the science. You reference ‘overloads’ yet almost all hospital’s are empty. Healthcare workers are being laid off in the US by the tens of thousands. As it stands, there is no evidence of deaths in major numbers outside averages in these countries. Deaths currently in the UK are significantly below average. Given the average age of someone ‘dying of C19’ in Italy is 80, perhaps that would give pause for thought.

        “We had a confirmed case from testing on 28 February so this is just nutbar denial of reality.”

        Show the science that the virus was not present in NZ prior to 28th Feb. Once again the claim is that this is a highly transmittable disease and there is credible research that shows it already being widespread out there (from Oxford). Again, given the policy undertaken, establishing this as a confirmed fact is critical, yet no effort has been made. Why?

        “Again not even wrong. Covid 19 is not a type of influenza which is caused by a totally different family of viruses.”

        The term ‘flu’ covers many types of respiratory illnesses and prior to effective tests for C19 being around almost anyone showing symptoms of C19 would have been diagnosed as having flu, or ‘flu like’. The actual data is almost non-existant.

        Coronaviruses are common, they are a group that include the common cold, SARS etc. There is no science showing that C19 is any more deadly that flu. The deaths being recorded currently are almost entirely ‘died with C19’, not ‘from’. The fatality rates are simply not measurable because there is no understanding of how many people have actually had it.

        NZ has one death ‘from C19’, someone with chronic smoking illness and morbidly obsess. If C19 is such a killer, why is almost no one under 40 touched by it? Children are completely immune.

        “When was the last time a NZ resident had polio, small pox or rubella?”

        Vaccines are great when we get a good one and work on it for decades. Note that none of those are highly transmittable or have significant indicators of the disease prior to it becoming transmittable. Vaccination for small pox was first around early in the 19th century, so it took, what, 100+ years to ‘stamp it out’. Is that the NZ Government plan?

        Interesting to know that no one ever shut their entire country down to stop any of these diseases, despite them being far more destructive than C19.

        “In short Pink Dave is just”

        Yes, I am very Just. It does speak volumes of what a small and empty person you are that you feel the need to do this in almost everything you post.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  8th April 2020

          Morbidly obese?

          Compare with Belgium with 2000 deaths after 3 weeks of lockdown(they have 10.5 mill people) and their lockdown is extended another 8 weeks

          Reply
          • Pink David

             /  8th April 2020

            I must have read a report wrong. How do we make a comparison with Belgium? If they have a lockdown, and thousands of death, where is the difference? It cannot be deadly in one place, yet not at all deadly in another? The policies are the same to a large degree. It’s timeline is not significantly different to NZ, so what’s going on?

            Reply
            • Covid first confirmed to have spread to Belgium 4 February (a Belgian ex Wuhan). They started restrictions 10 March but didn’t close their borders for non-essential travel until 20 March.

              First confirmed case in New Zealand 28 February (a New Zealander returning from Italy). We went to level to on 21 March, Level 4 on 25 March.

              So that’s a more than 3 week difference which is a long time in the progression of Covid.

  4. Pink David

     /  8th April 2020

    He is some actually useful data, comparison between UK deaths from respiratory diseases from the 5 year average and 2020;

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EVBx5_-XQAAzxmh?format=jpg&name=large

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  8th April 2020

      ‘Amongst the most egregious nonsense is the threats by police to arrest folk for driving while non-essential thereby taking thr victim from the safety and bubble of their car to the ultra high risk non-bubble of prison. Obscene and culpable nonsense.’AW

      Melodramatic drivel….where is the legal precedent for incarceration for non essential…driving?

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  8th April 2020

        Legal precedent doesn’t matter according to Duker if you disobey the state of emergency powers.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  8th April 2020

          Do you know if he has any degrees, out of interest?

          Duker, I mean. Not Reddell or Blazer.

          Reply
        • Duker

           /  8th April 2020

          What legal precedent ?
          The legislation has been passed as long as 1958.
          Maybe in the late 50s the polio epidemic meant these same measures were taken in various ways or similar epidemics since the Spanish Flu in 1919

          The judges follow the legislation – when asked – just as the DG has done so in quaranting the entire country. Legal precedent is just another of your thrashing about meaning nothing. Give a case where a judge has overturned an epidemic notice?
          this isnt US where the judges have the power to do so on constitutional grounds

          The nz Judges decided the prisoner voting ban breached the Bill of Rights , but shrugged their shoulders as the ban had been passed by parliament -lock stock and barrel and couldnt be altered by judges.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  8th April 2020

            Supreme Court seems to have been quite happy to establish rights for Maori. Maybe if we get a tattoo we can have some?

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  8th April 2020

              Would have to be the right kind of moko, Al, I reckon.
              Nothing too rude.

            • Duker

               /  8th April 2020

              Pandemic rules applies to everyone. men have a far grater danger from covid than women
              maybe women get lesser restrictions?
              Maori suffered even harder from Spanish flu so they dont wont a repeat

        • Duker

           /  8th April 2020

          Police having been stopping people day 1, whats so new
          “People could expect police officers to be very visible over the long weekend, Coster said, and they would be working in collaboration with local authorities and those from Civil Defence Emergency Management groups.”
          and
          “Those in and around the Gisborne area can also expect to be stopped if they are out and about over the long weekend.
          Dave Wilson, of the local emergency co-ordination centre, said people would be stopped and asked about where they were headed.”
          Civil Defence is involved because of State of Emergency

          “66 Minister may declare state of national emergency
          (1)The Minister may declare that a state of national emergency exists over the whole of New Zealand or any areas or districts if at any time it appears to the Minister that—
          (a)an emergency has occurred or may occur; and
          (b) the emergency is, or is likely to be, of such extent, magnitude, or severity that the civil defence emergency management necessary or desirable in respect of it is, or is likely to be, beyond the resources of the Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups whose areas may be affected by the emergency.”

          and
          “88 Closing roads and public places
          If a state of emergency is in force, a Controller or a constable, or any person acting under the authority of a Controller or constable, or any person so authorised in a relevant civil defence emergency management plan, may, in order to prevent or limit the extent of the emergency, totally or partially prohibit or restrict public access, with or without vehicles, to any road or public place within the area or district in respect of which the state of emergency is in force.”

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  8th April 2020

            may, in order to prevent or limit the extent of the emergency

            So they certainly may not do things that extend the emergency which is plainly what they are doing while having no effective preventative power on the emergency whatever.

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  8th April 2020

              The ’emergency’ is the pandemic/ infectious disease spread.

              ‘To prevent or limit the spread’ of the emergency/disease they are going to ‘totally or partially prohibit or restrict public access, with or without vehicles, to any road or public place ..’

              But go ahead , thumb your nose …drive around your shores at 10:30 at night with the stereo on full blast as you reckon its [blater] and an infringement of your rights.
              A judge in Christchurch has said repeated breaches will mean ‘they’ are locked up for the duration.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  8th April 2020

              A judge in Chch is subject to higher courts and the law. However the case in question probably involved dangerous or illegal behaviour beyond just movement violation. They don’t seem to have made any case their actions were safe.

        • Blazer

           /  8th April 2020

          ‘the ultra high risk non-bubble of prison.’….no mention.

          Reply
  5. Duker

     /  8th April 2020

    Belgium has extended its lockdown (level 4 in place since mar 17) for another 8 weeks

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-belgium/belgiums-lockdown-to-last-at-least-eight-more-weeks-health-minister-idUSKBN2190KM

    Deaths so far according to WHO are 1632 ( older numbers)

    For those who compare with Sweden and its loose lockdown ( about Lvel 2) ( Belgium has about 11.5 mill compared to Sweden 10 mill) and their death toll is 477 ( dated numbers)

    Reply
    • Belgium is currently on 2035 deaths (Worldometer and JHU CRC), a relatively high 176 per 1m, a little less than France which is having a surge now (on 10,328 deaths).

      Sweden is further from the European sweep of Covid so is a bit behind.

      Reply
      • Pink David

         /  9th April 2020

        “Sweden is further from the European sweep of Covid so is a bit behind.”

        How do you know this?

        Reply
        • Covid appears to have arrived first in Europe in Italy, at least to any degree. It then appears to have spread to Spain, France and Switzerland, then moved up to Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands, then Denmark

          Sweden is geographically disconnected from Western Europe.

          The UK is also geographically disconnected from Western Europe and has lagged a bit behind Southern Europe, with cases and deaths climbing as the appear to levelling out in Italy and Spain.

          Charts on Covid deaths in Sweden suggest that Covid is just cranking up there, lagging Italy, Spain etc.

          https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/sweden/

          Reply

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