Covid stats update

It is just under a month since I made this post https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2020/07/19/more-covid-cherry-picking/ and things haven’t got any better in the Americas. Of countries with populations of more than 5 million, Chile is still the nation with the most cases per capita. The US is second on that criteria but as the graph shows, Peru and Brazil are following a similar trajectory. I’ve included Sweden and Singapore in the graphs again for comparison because they really highlight the difference between “lots of cases” versus the trajectory of the cases: both countries have a high number of cases per capita[1] but both countries are on relatively slow trajectories.

I think Sweden and Singapore (very different countries culturally, geographically, climatically etc) help demonstrate that consistency and social co-operation with anti-pandemic measures make an impact more than stringency. This stands to reason, as it is the actual behaviours of people that reduce the spread rather than the laws on the books.

Meanwhile in the antipodes, the Melbourne outbreak continues to halt the shift back to normality in Australia. New Zealand has also encountered some cases again and has flipped back to tight measures to keep their elimination strategy in place.


[1] The usual caveat applies. The number of recorded cases is influenced by two related factors: the actual underlying number of cases and how many of those cases are being detected and recorded.

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8 responses to “Covid stats update”

  1. US is currently testing 2.14 tests/1000 persons, Sweden 1.1, Singapore 0.77. Would we be closer to US if we tested as many? Perhaps. Perhaps not, as numbers of tested seems to have gone down as fewer people show symptoms.

    Also, Sweden right now has spread mostly in the age group 20-29 which causes few fatalities or cases in need of hospital care.

    I find this fixation of cases to be a very bad measurement for comparisons between countries. As so much is dependent on number of tests and among which groups. It only makes sense for tracking changes inside a country.

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      • I guess that would work as I don’t think there’s been a major change in testing strategy in Sweden or US the last month. But as an example, the suddenly steeper curve in Sweden around June was a large increase in testing and the decline afterwards was when the backlog had been handled.

        So to interpret what the trajectory means, you have to know how testing has been performed during the period.

        It’s irritating that not all countries publish their new ICU cases, as those will be consistent regardless of changes in testing strategy.

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    • One thing that people — including professionals, including people who have to make decisions and set policy — are looking at is the positivity rate: what fraction of the people tested test positive?

      Changes in that are also relevant, but it’s less affected by number of tests. “Less,” not there is some effect–when there’s a shortage of tests or lab equipment, they may limit testing to people who are more likely to test positive. The question isn’t just “what percentage of the population of $place have coronavirus? But “does this person need to quarantine?: or decisions about their medical treatment.

      A lot also depends on how much mixing there is between generations. A college student is more likely to transmit the virus to another college student, but they’re also more likely to transmit it to professors than to people their age who aren’t in college.

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  2. It’s interesting just looking at North America. Mexico has been following a slow mostly-exponential curve, having crossed the ‘World’ line back at the end of May and continuing to rise above it. Canada had a rise until about the end of May as well, and then has, while not entirely flattened, tapered off since then. (Mexico passed Canada around the end of July.)

    And then there’s the U.S., which passed Canada in early March, passed the World in mid-March, and after starting to get things under control, ramped back up in mid-June badly enough that the increase in angle is visible on the log chart. Its per-capita rate is now four times Mexico’s, five times Canada’s, and six times the World’s.

    Combine this with the way that we’ve got documented cases of Americans sneaking into Canada, both by claiming that they’re on the way to Alaska and then stopping to sight-see in the Canadian Rockies, and also people in boats turning off their transponders in Canadian waters… and it’s no wonder Canadians are starting to get seriously peeved at Americans. We’re almost getting it under control, and they are not helping.

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