By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley
The good news keeps coming. In the United States and Canada, the weekly-averaged daily compound growth rates of confirmed cases of infection are now about 8%, down from the benchmark values of 23% and 17% respectively that obtained in the three weeks to March 14, when Mr Trump declared the pandemic to be a national emergency.
Fig. 1. Mean compound daily growth rates in confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection for the world excluding China (red) and for several individual nations averaged over the successive seven-day periods ending on all dates from March 28 to April 11, 2020. A link to the high-definition PowerPoint slides is at the end of this posting.
The daily case-growth rate for the world excluding China and occupied Tibet is down from the benchmark value of almost 20% in the three weeks to 14 March to just 6.1% for the week to 11 April.
The daily compound rate of growth in deaths is a lagging indicator, so it remains rather higher than the case-growth rate. For the world outside China and occupied Tibet, it is 8.1%. In the United States it is 13%, in Canada 16%. Though the overall trend in these death-growth rates is falling slowly, there will be many more deaths before the pandemic subsides.
Daily growth rates in deaths are falling rather more slowly on average than growth rates in total confirmed cases, but the overall trend is downward.
Fig. 2. Mean compound daily growth rates in reported COVID-19 deaths for the world excluding China (red) and for several individual nations averaged over the successive seven-day periods ending on all dates from April 4 to April 11, 2020.
The Spectator reports that in the town of Gangelt, one of the epicenters of the German outbreak, a random sample of 1000 residents taken by researchers at the University of Bonn found that, though only 2% of the sample showed symptoms, 15% had been infected and showed antibodies. Yet the confirmed cases reported by Germany as a whole to April 11 were just 125,452, or 0.15% of the population of 84 million.
In short, the confirmed cases, which tend to be the more serious ones, appear to undercount the true extent of infection by two orders of magnitude. This came as a surprise to many, but to those who have been following these daily updates it will have been no surprise, because, based on casting back deaths three weeks, I was able to discover that the number of cases of infection was being under-reported by somewhere between 1 and 3 orders of magnitude.
This is good news for two reasons. First, we are much further along the road to population-wide immunity than the confirmed-case counts had suggested. Secondly, the case fatality rate appears to be a great deal smaller than the ratio of deaths to reported cases had indicated. My original rough-and-ready calculations based on casting back deaths in the U.S. population suggested a case fatality rate of 0.34%. The German researchers concluded that it was 0.37%.
In global terms, these figures suggest that, assuming 90%, or 7 billion, of the world’s 7.8 billion population eventually became infected, total worldwide deaths would be about 26 million, making the disease about half as bad as the Spanish flu of 1918-19, which chiefly killed young people and accounted for an estimated 50 million deaths. In the United States there would be 1.1 million deaths. For comparison, in the 2019-20 flu season there are thought to have been 24,000 to 62,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
So the fatalities could still be significant, based on the German study. However, several promising avenues of research into prophylactics, palliatives and cures are being followed worldwide. The sooner some of these are shown to have a significant effect in randomized, prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials, the smaller the eventual death toll will be.
A happy Easter to everyone. And, by way of an Easter Funny, here is a picture of the personal protective equipment that the fashionable Peer of the Realm is wearing this season.