The Wuhan Coronavirus - Theory vs Evidence

Today, I thought it would be a good idea to see if Professor Ferguson's estimate, that the coronavirus numbers double every five days, matches recent data. Five days ago, I blogged about the true reproduction rate of the disease, compared to numbers quoted in the press. In that blog, I included a John Hopkins live update screen, displaying the official numbers of infected. Here is the screen-grab, again, from the 8th February:


And here is the screen-grab from this morning, the 13th February:


It looks as if Professor Ferguson's rate-of-doubling is reasonable. The overall numbers have nearly doubled. Hong Kong's numbers have almost doubled. Singapore's numbers have slightly-less-than doubled. The UK, which was on 4 (it's not on the screen), is now on 9. Some places seem to have slowed their spread, such as South Korea and Japan. Hopefully, this indicates that they have extremely good protection measures in place. It's worth noting that the official Japanese numbers of infected don't include the cruise ship which is docked in Yokohama. That ship, alone, at my last check, had over 100 confirmed infections. The Japan numbers are therefore brilliant, or scary, depending on how you look at them.

It's also worth noting that the numbers I mentioned above (barring the UK) are in countries where people are wearing face-masks, locking down shops and generally on high alert. The virus would therefore be spreading slowly in these countries. Countries that don't have citizens wearing face masks, avoiding busy places etc, might look safer but the opposite may be true. These are countries where the virus, once it is established, would spread much faster. I'd therefore recommend that anyone in these countries, where there are only a few cases, ease off on parties, cinema trips etc in the next month. The people infected with the coronavirus are able to spread it, while showing no symptoms, for up to 14, or possibly 24 days, and it seems to spread very easily, possibly as easily as measles. Once the epidemic progresses to the next phase, when the first death is recorded, and the general public gets worried, the masks and sanitisers come out, the schools close, etc; that's when it's obvious what to do. The critical period, in many ways, is before that phase is reached. Here in the UK, I think we are currently in that critical period.

I recently made a time-line spreadsheet, to work out how the epidemic progresses, based on Professor Ferguson's data and other information. To be honest, it's a scary spreadsheet. I marked out the time-line in fortnight intervals and named each fortnight, based on the epidemic's level and people's response. Here in the UK, we are currently in 'Interest' fortnight, and next week begins 'Concern' fortnight. These terms sounds benign, but as I say, this is when the virus is transmitted most easily. By May, we reach the 'Hysteria' and 'Chaos' fortnights. I dearly hope that we do contain this virus and avoid such an outcome. Preparation and good practices now, I think, will influence that outcome. Unfortunately, it seems that China has failed to contain the virus and we can see what that has done. I'll end today's blog with this recent NTDTV video: