March 12, 2020 By Richard Baehr
I have always been fascinated by numbers, so looking at data on the
coronavirus spread and its lethality is revealing and also raises lots
of questions I cannot answer, since I am not a virologist, nor am I on
top of what each country is doing to contain the spread of the
virus. There are several good sources of information on the numbers if
this interests you.
A 17-year-old prodigy from Seattle has created an excellent database, which updates every minute. Here is an article on
the young software designer. Johns Hopkins University, recipient of
the largest gift ever made by one person to a university (Michael
Bloomberg's gift of $1.8 billion), also has good data.
country-by-country information, especially when examined over time,
suggests that there are some disparities. First: the incidence rate —
that is, the number of cases compared to a country's population. This
virus began in China and grew rapidly there, particularly in one area of
the country, but case volume now has leveled off with very small growth
in the caseload, and well over half recovered. This is encouraging, or
should be; it suggests that containment is possible.
Now, an authoritarian country has tools at its disposal that democracies do not. In any case, China has a total caseload of 80,000 that has been quite steady for a few weeks. China has a population of 1.4 billion. In other words, 1 in every 17,000 Chinese has come down with the disease. Obviously, the incidence rate in the Wuhan area is higher than the national incidence rate in China — maybe more than 25 times higher. This is also the area where the disease spread rapidly, since almost nobody early on knew what the population was dealing with.
Yesterday, Germany's Angela Merkel predicted that 60–70% of that country's population of roughly 85 million would come down with the virus. Really? Based on what?
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