Stories – 5April 10, 2020 1:27 pm
COVID-19 Update April 10th 2020, HB Dreis
The major goal of the COVID-19 information provided in this blog is to create hope based on facts.
After the available data on April 8th proved a slow down of the growth rates of COVID-19 in the US (which also holds for many other countries in the world) we like to emphasis on the commonly stressed comparison with the flu seasons. We definitely don’t want to dismiss the dramatic dimension of the pandemy or to downplay its consequences on individuals and the health care system. But a closer look can help to better understand future governmental and other public measures and how to deal with the economical impact.
As the long term consequences of the current economical impact can be dramatic as well it’s imperative to come to realistic conclusions to gear up for normalization of the economy.
To do so we present some more hope giving numbers.
A new study of the Univerity of Gottingen in Germany concluded that worldwide only about 6% of all COVID-19 cases and only 1.2% in the US are kown.
If this is true this might sound horrifying in the first place but in reality it would be rather good news. Why that?
Before we answer the question a short reminder on how we calculate the death rate and thus the mortality of a virus. The mortality is the percentage calculated from the number of death by the virus divided by the number of total cases, times 100 (to get the percent value). The accuracy of the derived mortality depends on the accuracy of the two numbers, death by COVID-19, and total COVID-19 cases. Both numbers have right now very limited accuracies but the number of death by COVID-19 is better known, even if it is most likely a little too high. The reason for that is that currently everyone who dies having the virus is counted as dying from the virus which is certainly not entirely correct but also not too far off. If the Gottingen numbers are however correct this means that the second number – the total cases – which is used to calculate mortality is too low by a factor of 16 world wide and a factor of 55 in the US. The consequence would be that the calculated mortality would in reality be lower by the same factors.
Taking the currently best COVID-19 mortality guess of the WHO which is 3.4% into account this would bring down the COVID-19 mortality to 0.2%. This would be a correction to put a big exclamation mark behind because it is matching very precisely the mortality of the flu or influenca. And despite of the hardship COVID-19 is causing this would be indeed good news about the mortality rate (of course not so good news about the number of total cases).
Having said that, here is another number worth looking at in the light of this statement. The flu has caused in the same period of time COVID-19 is raging between 29,000 and 59,000 death in the US and COVID-19 has caused as of today about 17,000 in the US.
To close this post and to circle back to the post from March 23rd where we called for masses of fast tests we would like to state that this was a great idea on the one side but on the other side reliable (!) and fast tests are still not available and will take much more time to develop.
There is however an efficient method to test if the numbers of Gottingen are correct and this method is called representative tests. It means that instead of testing only persons who have symptoms, to test random chosen but representative groups of people for COVID-19. Such tests have already been started in some countries but much more are needed. In particularly because the differences between outbreak hot spots and other regions with less cases need to be investigated in this representative way. To calculate the real number of infections from those samples the same software used for extrapolations after elections can be used to produce reliable numbers of the overall invection situation. And we know how precise such extrapolations can be.
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