Deaths trail cases by a week or so:
So, assuming this is a trend and not a blip, looks like the virus is winding down in Lombardy. Spring is here, the sun – the best disinfectant – is out, so if COVID 19 is like typical viruses, it, too, will largely die off once it’s warm out. Let us hope so.
14,000 dead so far in Italy. If the shape of the curve is typical of what I’ve seen for outbreaks – more or less bell-shaped – maybe 30,000 COVID 19 deaths?
Then, add the forbidden data: many of these people would have died soon anyway. Victims are predominantly old and sick. I’m seeing 11-12% tossed around as the percentage of deaths attributed to COVID 19 where the viral infection was a significant factor. In other words, a large percentage of 80 years olds with serious medical conditions die every year; of the half a million or so Italian deaths each year, some disproportionately large percentage is old, sick people. This is the vulnerable population, which we seem to assume we can ‘save’. I’m all for washing your hands and staying away from grandma if you’re coughing or running a fever, but I don’t think I’m going to go to my grave wracked with guilt if my mother-in-law, 82, who lives with us, were to catch something nasty – a bad case of the flu, for example – and die. I’d be sad, but I’m rational enough to know that it’s the being 82 part, not the flu part, that played the larger role in such a hypothetical death.
With COVID 19, we’re not that rational.
Now I’m watching Spain, France, and Germany, which should be next up to peak; UK lags a little more. Data in these countries are mixed – no exponential rise in cases or deaths, but no clear drop yet, either. Deaths and new cases are both dropping in Iran. If you add China and the US, that’s all the countries in the world with over 2,000 deaths attributed to COVID 19.
US data is spiky. At the moment, we’ve had an apocalyptic 666 deaths today so far – day is based on GMT, so it is almost over – after a much more frightening 1,049 deaths yesterday. New cases are still trending upward, but at what looks to be a decreasing slope. Small data set theater warning. The general trend for daily deaths still looks upward, but with occasional drops, too. I’ll stick with my guess that in another 2 weeks, it should be clear that we’re on the downslope of this thing. Let us pray that’s the case.
All in all, I was overly optimistic when I said we might only end up with 5,000 total deaths; 10K is looking like a sure thing at this point. We may end up in the ballpark of Italy’s 30,000 dead, unless – and this is a real possibility, but not what history seem to show for viral infections – we have new major outbreaks in the warm sunny part of the year, which we are just now entering.
So I remain fairly confident we here in the US won’t see that 100K dead that was touted as the *minimum* even if we took actions more drastic and sooner than those that were in fact taken; baring a disaster-movie-worthy upswing in mortality, that 11M dead we were threatened with remains a fantasy.
But I’m just a numbers guy. Of course, I could be wrong.