Our World in Data has an interesting section on covid infection modelling, that looks at estimates of the ‘true’ number of infections based on the available data. https://ourworldindata.org/covid-models
Meanwhile, here is an update of the graph I showed in my previous post.
The same caveats apply. The exact number of confirmed cases isn’t comparable between countries for multiple reasons. However, the trajectory of cases tells us a lot and to that end I’ve left Singapore and Sweden on the graph for comparison. As I said previously, both countries have different circumstances and different approaches to the pandemic but they’ve ended up with similar curves that show slow growth in cases but not rapidly surging growth.
Here is a similar graph but with a modified choice of countries that shows a variety of different patterns each of which tell their own national story.
Israel, Spain, the UK and Australia each have had situations of initial growth in infections that was then met with various lockdown measures, leading to a flattening of the curve, leading to a degree of relaxation of measures…then being hit by a second wave. I hadn’t been aware of how badly the situation had changed in Israel. Abigail Nussbaum has an excellent account of what went wrong here https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2020/07/from-new-zealand-to-america-covid-19-in-israel It looks like the UK may be on a similar path but potentially it may flatten out again.
Poor leadership, confused strategy and confused public health messaging do appear to be a common theme in countries struggling to control infection rates. I wonder if that will be confirmed when we finally get past this pandemic and researchers have had time to sift through how policy responses impacted both infection rates and death rates.
Our World in Data also has a page on the economic impact of the virus: https://ourworldindata.org/covid-health-economy I’ve been sceptical of the data on death rates for multiple reasons but that page has an interesting graph comparing confirmed deaths per million people and GDP growth compared with 2019 (the ‘growth’ is all negative of course). The article contends:
“But among countries with available GDP data, we do not see any evidence of a trade-off between protecting people’s health and protecting the economy. Rather the relationship we see between the health and economic impacts of the pandemic goes in the opposite direction. As well as saving lives, countries controlling the outbreak effectively may have adopted the best economic strategy too.”
I’d still be sceptical about making a stronger conclusion there i.e. that poor controls of the virus lead to worse economic impact. However, I think we can safely conclude that framing health measures as a trade-off with economic growth is misleading. Avoiding taking measures to control the rate of infection brings no observable national economic benefits.