A lot has changed in the five weeks since I first wrote about the Corona Virus. With all the uncertainty swirling, and things rapidly changing I thought I would offer an update. One that at least offers a ray of hope.
Most of this post will be about explaining the graph above, which I think is the most important one that I have seen in the past six weeks. You can click on it to view it full size. It was created by Thomas Puyeo. I would really recommend reading his full article and explanation.
When I first wrote about the virus, I quoted a Lancet article that had been written on January 21st, 2020.
To possibly succeed, substantial, even draconian measures that limit population mobility should be seriously and immediately considered in affected areas, as should strategies to drastically reduce within-population contact rates through cancellation of mass gatherings, school closures, and instituting work-from-home arrangements, for example.
We of course have heard about the suspension/cancellation of the NBA and NHL seasons, as well as the delay of the start of Baseball. In my home province of Ontario, all schools are now closed for the next three weeks. This, despite the fact that the whole country has only had 80 cases to date. I will likely be starting to work from home in the next few days.
What I want to try to demonstrate from the above graph why these “draconian” measures are so important, and so effective.
Let me start off by saying that I have long discounted the number of case counts, they seem to be significantly undercounting the number of cases in the community. I could give a number of examples of why I believe this to be true, but what we have currently is huge discrepancies in the ratio of cases to deaths, netting out somewhere around 3.4%. That is why in my last post, my graph displayed the number of deaths, as the number is very concrete.
What we find in the graph at the top of this post, is that the reported number of cases significantly lagged the actual number of cases. The yellow bars are the reported cases in Hubei, China from December 26th to February 11th. But when they asked people “when did you first start exhibiting symptoms?” they got much earlier dates dating back to December 8th as shown by the gray bars. Did you get that? The gray bars represent when the cases actually started, NOT when they were reported.
On January 23rd, the Chinese government shut down Hubei, one day later they shut down 15 other cities. On the day they shut down Hubei they only had 400 reported case of the Corona virus on that day. In hindsight we can see from the gray bars that they actually had 2500 cases on that day, with the number of unreported cases probably adding a significant number.
Although the yellow bars (the reported cases) continue to climb and climb for 11 days hitting a peak of 3500 on February 4th, look at what happens to the gray bars. Once Hubei and the surrounding cities are shut down, the actual cases stop growing, and instead start to decline, quite rapidly in fact. By February 11th, they are down to about 100 cases per day, and today that daily case number is starting to approach zero.
Quarantine works. And it starts to work immediately. That is why Ontario announced their closure of schools today. Even though we only have a total of 60 cases, 18 of them occurred today, and it was time to act before it got completely out of control as seen in many countries. Note: The last case announced today was Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, the wife of the Canadian Prime Minister.
We are seeing more cancellations on a daily basis. My fear is that countries in general are not acting fast enough and it is going to still get worse before it gets better. But at least there is hope. We know what works, and we have the means to stop it, or at least slow it down, before it kills millions of people.
A few final quick notes:
- I agree with the American decision to ban flights from Europe. It is getting out of control in most of Europe, Sweden just announced that they are no longer testing unless you are actually sick in hospital. It has moved from a containment phase to a mitigation phase. In North America we are still in the containment phase. Please pray that our leaders act with wisdom.
- My son and his fiancee are in self isolation in Seattle. The don’t know if they have contracted the virus, but had symptoms three weeks ago. Please pray that they will remain safe.
- I fear for my Dad, he is 80, and is a three time Cancer survivor. He is in a very high risk group. Please pray for him.
- The first case in my home town of Hamilton was an Oncologist who is a colleague of a good friend. Please pray for my friend Kevin and his family as well.
- The Canadian Deputy Prime Minister stated today that she expected that 30 to 70 percent of Canadians will eventually contract the virus. Please pray that it does not come to that.
- Vaccines are still a year or two away. Please pray that they may find an effective and safe one quickly.
- My new go-to site for up to date information is: WorldOMeters – CoronaVirus
My final thoughts:
(initial career direction was to become a stockbroker. I eventually decided that programming and data were more up my alley, but I still like to dabble. I had made a rather insensitive comment on another post that I had sold my stocks at the top of the market crash. My apologies for being insensitive. Soon after writing my first post on the topic on February 7th I started watching the market closely. By the 14th I had decided I was going to sell, but didn’t actually do so until the market started to drop on the 24th. (I acted against the very strong advice of my financial adviser). I have no real idea where the bottom of this market is going to be, although the Toronto Stock Exchange Index (TSX) looks like it has some support another 1000 points down from the close of 12500 today. Click on the graph to see it full size. I added the lines to the graphs on Wednesday of this past week. Please do NOT take this as investment advice. It is intended as another ray of hope that the bottom might be in sight.
As usual, your thoughts and comments are welcome.