Today I’ll share a few different views into how the outbreak is manifesting in different regions.
- Raw Numbers of Deaths: This is what gets the headlines, but 1000 deaths in the USA is much less severe than 500 deaths in a much smaller country. Regardless, it is a number we intrinsically understand, so we keep being bombarded by it. Normally I show deaths per 1000 population these days, but the following graph is just cumulative deaths across a number of countries. I put it up here to demonstrate what the trends are.
In the above, we see the rate of deaths per day decreasing in a good number of the hardest hit regions. Spain and Italy’s death rates have been decreasing for about a week. Note that of the 4 most affected countries, though, two (France and England) have death rates that are steadily increasing. At one point, it looked like France would be joining Italy and Spain and start decelerating its death rate, but in the last few days, we’ve seen a new spike. The next grouping of countries (Belgium, Germany Netherlands) has a much lower rate than the top four. These countries have seen similar numbers of cases to the top four, but have managed to keep the death count lower. The third grouping of countries (Brazil, Turkey, Switzerland, Sweden, Portugal) are a mix. Brazil has joined this group recently and is seeing growth in numbers. Turkey has been here for a while, but has kept the death rate low, but steadily increasing. Switzerland has had even more success in keeping their death rate low while still managing an equivalent number of cases to their neighbors. Sweden has moved up into this group recently, with their famous “no-distancing” approach possibly being a contributor. As you can see, different countries are being affected differently by this outbreak, particularly in the number of deaths, and it will be interesting to evaluate what factors contributed after this has passed on and the data improves.
2. Confirmed cases: I think we all know by this point that the confirmed cases metric is a bit inconsistent. However, I assume it’s showing us something of interest, we just need to figure out what it is. One thing I’m assuming from doing a little research is that in most countries, cases get confirmed through a similar process. First, a person gets COVID-19 symptoms, then they beg someone for a test, then they either get sent home to quarantine or they get sent into a hospital (Iceland’s the only country I’ve heard of that probably follows a different process since they’re systematically testing non-symptomatic people). In this process, there’s one common denominator, COVID-19 symptoms. So the confirmed case metric might be a proxy for the number of symptomatic people in a country. It’s probably not a good measure for hospitalized people in a country (unless that country is China and wants to keep its numbers low). In most cases, it’s hard to come by the percentage of confirmed cases that end up in the hospital, so we can’t even calcuate that interesting metric. The table below shows the current state of the world, sorted by Confirmed Cases per 1000 people. You can see lots of interesting things in this table. It makes me ask a number of questions… Why are the outcomes so different for Portugal and Spain? Portugal’s numbers are very similar to Germany’s. And what can explain the differences in the numbers between Italy and Germany? Looking at Israel, they have some of the lowest death numbers in the world. I hear their armed forces are playing a part. How is this working? Why do Iran and Turkey have such different numbers? And so on…
3. We’re starting to see case growth in South Latitudes. The chart below is only looking at how the rates of cases and deaths are growing, so they can change more quickly than overall numbers of cases and deaths. These rates can tell us where the current hotspots are. I’ll be posting this chart periodically so we can watch how COVID-19 spreads (or fails to spread) across the world. Of interest here are the rate of case growth at the far left. This largely represents New Zealand and Australia and might be showing that the conditions are starting to be more supportive of the virus in this region. The latitudes to the right continue to show the same kinds of growth. The actual data for this chart is below. Remembering that the graph below is showing rates of change, note that the deaths per 1000 people for latitudes 40-50 are still higher than any other region (although it looks like other latitude ranges might be growing faster from the chart below).