311 - Covid in August

I am steadily losing interest in this. I will continue to maintain my spreadsheets, but I think I may upload them only once a week,reducing what I abstract from the wider collection I have been doing for the last four months—essays 293, 299, 300, 303, 306. I've changed the y-axis on graphs to a log scale in many cases.

14th August Around 5000 deaths removed by the UK reduces that figure; 20000 cases removed from the count by Spain, backdating to May/June. Changes like this do very little to engender trust, even with some sort of explanation. See Essay 297 - Transparency for explanation. The chart of cases per million explains the return of quarantine for people returning from several European countries as of next weekend, but I think any delay is an error, as it causes mass movement almost guaranteed to include infectious cases. I pointed up Netherlands and France several days ago and any aware holiday-maker (oxymoron?) woudl have twigged this. But then a sensible person would not have gone abroad at all.

1st August  It seems clear to me that we have relaxed lockdown too much, too soon and that we will spend August undergoing changes in an on/off sort of way. How we cope with school in September is far from clear. The telling point was made by Chris Whitty this week when he said we may have reached the limits of what we can do, so that we must trade some things for others. The press has latched on to a choice (theirs, I think) between opening pubs and re-opening schools. That's different from choosing between health and wealth, at least. I think causing the population to stop watching the 17:00 Downing Street briefing ("This is the last of these", 23rd June, now done ad hoc (July 2,3,9,17..)) was a significant error, since we are often told by the media that the communication from government is poor. It is also clear that when you look for detail the message is suficiently mixed that one is easily confused. For example, the increases around Manchester in late July were in more affluent areas, not the denser areas with three or four generations per household, not the deprived. The NorthWest is showing increase, but that growth is very uneven. The distinct growth in Barrow of June is now shown to have been zealous accurate testing and counting—in a sense, those figures were more nearly correct and everyone else was under-reporting, perhaps by 50%. This causes further difficulty when seeking to compare nations.


On the right, the ONS case count for the UK, from the new official site. I'd love to be able to embed this so that you always got the latest version. Similarly the local cases map is here to the left, generally a week or so old. the links take you to the latest release.

Trying to identify a second wave in Europe, I show 8 selected countries as reported new case count  and new case count per (million) capita. Updating of these happens perhaps only once per week.  I've tried to keep the colour choices consistent. Yes, I should have made the Netherlands the orange choice. Too many countries use red, white and blue.

Bear in mind that the choice and precision of testing has an effect on the measurement of prevalence.

Cases per capita clearly indicates who has issues relative to the other included countries. I think we should worry at any discernible positive gradient on the per capita graph, since my perception is that England (more than the rest of the UK) has a real problem and therefore the countries faring worse than us on this graph have an even bigger issue.

In my mind, 1000 new cases per day is five to ten times too many. we seem to be settled at 12 new cases per million. The Italians are faring better at this; Netherlands and Germany (obvious positive gradient) are not doing well. For the others, it looks as though there is some acceptable level of incidence. Might that be political or social acceptance? Does the perception of need for income or prosperity (wealth vs health) overcome the perception of danger to (and from) others?

The larger graph 'growth rates by nation' below shows a selection of countries in terms of case count. For no reason but laziness, I have ignored several countries with high case counts. Here the data points are faint and the dotted line is 7-day average. I have decided to suppress the legend,replacing it with labels in appropriately coloured text boxes.

Has the US actually peaked?

This graph records the UK position, transforming (enlargement vertically, translation to the right) the deaths so that the two curves can be overlaid. I changed the factor from the July version [from five to seven and then to eight] to account for fewer deaths per case. Faint line is the data, dotted line is the 7-day rolling average Blue is deaths, yellow is cases. I think the only bit of interest now is the extreme right.

My perception is that the increasing separation of the blue and yellow lines indicates that we're finding more cases (possibly through better, more directed testing) and/or have found better treatments, such that we're losing proportionally fewer people. English Deaths are no longer counted as from any cause after a positive test, only for deaths occurring within 28 days of the first positive test, which is how the other UK nations have been counting. That reduced the death count by around 5000.

This business of reacting to a trend is much the same as how people first steer a boat, without anticipation.

DJS 20200812

Related stuff worth a read: 

1. How the pandemic defeated America, Ed Yong, The Atlantic.  DJS' subtitle: So you think it was bad in England.
 It hasn't been bad elsewhere in the UK, so for once I identify with England.

Normal led to this. America First was America oblivious. Travel bans make intuitive sense, because travel obviously enables the spread of a virus. But in practice, travel bans are woefully inefficient at restricting either travel or viruses. Ironically, they create travel. America’s nursing homes and long-term-care facilities house less than 1 percent of its people, but as of mid-June, they accounted for 40 percent of its coronavirus deaths. More than 50,000 residents and staff have died.

Today, the U.S. spends just 2.5 percent of its gigantic health-care budget on public health. Underfunded health departments were already struggling to deal with opioid addiction, climbing obesity rates, contaminated water, and easily preventable diseases. Last year saw the most measles cases since 1992. In 2018, the U.S. had 115,000 cases of syphilis and 580,000 cases of gonorrhea—numbers not seen in almost three decades. It has 1.7 million cases of chlamydia, the highest number ever recorded.

The media added to the confusion. During a pandemic, leaders must rally the public, tell the truth, and speak clearly and consistently.  Trump is a comorbidity of the COVID‑19 pandemic.

The pandemic has been both tragedy and teacher. Its very etymology offers a clue about what is at stake in the greatest challenges of the future, and what is needed to address them. Pandemic. Pan and demos. All people.

2. Contact Tracing is having a trust Crisis, Sarah Hloder, CityLab.

This goes some way to describing why it is people are reluctant to co-operate with track and trace.Not least, that they will be blamed for causing others difficulties. In the US, additional isolation might easily cost you your job, so dire is the employment position. I wonder if we have a reliably different position in Britain and perhaps we don't.

Related pages:

Essay 291 - Effects of an outbreak  what it says, effects, but some description of what we have (and not)

Coronavirus (Y10+)   modelling problems

Epidemics                  more general theory

Infectious disease      looking at the 2020 problem, particularly effects of the reproduction number changing.

Essay 298 Covid Consequences       surprisingly prescient, considering when it was written.

Essay 299  Covid in April

Essay 300  Covid in May

Essay 303 Covid in June

Essay 304 Covid Disparities           A report on the report, including what it doesn't say.

Essay 305  Risk

Essay 306 Covid in July

Essay 311 Covid in August                 this very page

Viruses are very small                        worth reading, I think.

Recent discovery of Medium. One such article discusses effects of Covid on the eyes

Email: David@Scoins.net      © David Scoins 2018