Covid19 : Tracking the Curves
Posted by Kurt Noer - Day five of my daily updates (including updating these graphs each day): 3/31/2020, 12:57pm (EST)
Note: I'm not a doctor or an expert on viruses. I am just a small business owner who has been monitoring growth graphs (based on data from WHO and CDC) and I couldn't help but notice that the media has been ignoring MOST of the encouraging signs of this virus slowing down as seen below (daily new cases) and instead continues to focus on cumulative numbers such as total death counts. The problem with this is that cumulative numbers such as death counts will NEVER go down. Even if this virus slows down to a handful of deaths per year that particular number will forever grow.
Table of Contents:
1: Understanding the different types of curves
2: A challenge to the media
3: The Bad News (that we already know)
4: The Good News - Countries showing signs of slowing down
Understanding the different types of curves
We are now all familiar with the term "flattening the curve." However, it important to ask, "Which curve are you talking about? As there are different types of curves we should be tracking and they will each come in waves of different timelines (as we witnessed in South Korea).
Below is a list of these curve types and the order they will peak and decline:
Model #1 Curve:
Tracking the daily number of NEW cases reported each day. Obviously if this number goes down each day, that would be good, correct? This is what we SHOULD be focusing on primarily to find the earliest signs of when things are truly showing improvement. This bell curve is the first 'wave' we will see when it comes to the overall timeline. Besides China and South Korea there are already a number of countries around the world that are beginning to show positive signs of their daily numbers slowing down and some even showing what looks to be the beginning of a downward trend (including Italy).
As we see here, South Korea has already moved beyond their Model #1 Curve:
Model #2 Curve:
Tracking the total, cumulative number of people who are still actively infected, these are people who have yet to recover. This bell curve will reach its peak and eventually decline at a later time. Why? Because it takes a few weeks for people to recover.
Below is South Korea, you can see that the peak of this curve came later than the Model #1 Curve:
Model #3 Graph:
Tracking the number of people who have recovered. This line technically will never come down as similar to tracking total number of deaths, it will continue to always climb as long as people continue to get infected.
Below is an updated graph of where South Korea is with this third curve. As you can see their Model #3 Graph:
Model #4 Curve:
Tracking not the total, cumulative number, but the DAILY number of people who die each day. This number sadly continues to grow WELL after the first three curves mentioned above. The reason being is that many of the deaths do not happen until weeks, if not months later.
Again, as seen in South Korea below, they are WAY beyond the point of hitting the top of their Model #1 Curve and have also since seen a dramatic decrease in new infections, yet their daily death counts are still climbing.
It is important to recognize that KNOWING that this bell curve will be the very LAST wave of curves to peak and decline, it is a fair question to ask why the media continually puts such a huge focus on THESE numbers instead of focusing on the data relating to the Model #1 Curve, which is already showing positive signs within numerous countries around the world.
Model #5 'DECEPTIVE' Curve:
Tracking the total, cumulative number of everyone who was ever infected and the tracking of the total, cumulative number of everyone who has died. It is extremely important to understand that these two types of data points will NEVER "get over the curve" because they will FOREVER continue to climb upwards. Yet, these are the graphs and numbers that the media loves to share the most.
A challenge to the media
Why are you primarily focusing on data relating to Model #5 ...and ignoring (or at least dramatically downplaying) the very positive signs of this virus slowing down in numerous countries when using the Model #1 Curve?
Again, even if this virus eventually slows down to a handful of deaths per year, the total number of global deaths is something that will NEVER stop climbing. So ask yourselves, is it really an honest form of reporting to talk about how we need to flatten the curve, but then continually use the term, "Still climbing" over and over and over? That number will NEVER stop climbing.
What the general public REALLY wants to see are signs of this growth slowing down, even if it is happening in other countries besides ours. They are asking, "Where are we on this curve that we are trying to flatten?" And as we have hopefully driven home by now, the earliest way of detecting the top of the curve within numerous countries around the world is to focus on the Model #1 Curve.
Here is another example of what we are talking about. Most of us our familiar with the horror Italy has been going through. Below is an updated graph (3/31/20) that shows the current TOTAL number of people who have been infected so far in Italy using Model #5:
Looks hopeless, does it not? This is the typical type of graph the media loves to display behind them while sharing their growing death counts.
However below is ALSO today's numbers (3/31/20) for Italy ...and also using data from the same exact sources of WHO and CDC:
The difference? This second (and more encouraging) graph focuses on the Model #1 Curve, which is the DAILY number of NEWLY reported cases each day. And as you can see, there is evidence that their growth is slowing down and hopefully teetering at the top of their first curve. While this may still bounce up and down a few times, the hope is that the earlier huge spikes of growth have stopped and we will soon see these daily numbers continue to go down.
BOTH are completely accurate graphs. But ask yourselves, why is the media rarely, if ever, showing us THIS kind of encouraging news?
The Bad News (that everyone already knows)
Covid19 is no joke. We want to make it clear that we strongly recommend taking this virus seriously and follow the suggestions listed at the CDC website such as hand washing and social distancing (especially toward your elderly relatives you may live with as well as anyone you know who has preexisting conditions).
The Good News: Countries showing signs of slowing down
The good news is that the number of people getting infected each day WILL eventually go down instead of up. In fact, within two countries (China and South Korea), it already has.
Let's first peek at China. Granted, there are VERY good reasons to question the numbers coming out of China. Their numbers are most likely far higher than what their government has told us. However, it does appear that either way they are now past the worst of it and we have certainly seen proof that the people of China are now returning to work, their factories are operating again and their small business shops are opening back up again:
Fortunately South Korea has shown us a similar history:
The above examples are obviously what we want to eventually see in EVERY country. But how long will it take? Many people are estimating around 25-30 days from when we first see a curve first take off. Using this estimate we are hopefully within 1-2 weeks at the very most of seeing this upward growth slows down and level off, teetering for a few weeks and then begin to decline.
And for those who may also question the numbers from South Korea (or even a handful of other countries) fortunately we are now beginning to seeing similar positive numbers from more and more countries (some of which I highlight below):
I can't help but highlight Italy again as it is truly looking like their daily numbers (of reported NEW cases) has finally leveled off and begun to steadily decrease:
A tick back up yesterday (3/30/20), but still lower than the daily number of recorded new cases the day before (3/29/20)! Let's hope we see these daily numbers level off and begin to turn downward.
A tick back up yesterday (3/30/20) after the encouraging drop we had the day before but keep in mind that we are around the 3 week period (when you look at when the curve first truly began to take off) and if the 30 day theory is correct, we will hopefully see these daily numbers level off by next week and begin to turn downward for good.
Unfortunately most of the other countries around the world are still showing an upward trend. However based on the 30 day growth theory, they too will hopefully see their apex (top of the Model #1 Curve) within the next 5-10 days.
You can track theses and other countries yourself by using the tool listed below.
Our suggestions on how to use the cv19info.live website (the source we are pulling these graphs from):
1) In the upper left hand corner, you can click on the word GLOBAL and then click on the arrow to the right of the area of your choice for a further broken down look at country by country.
2) The first graph shows cumulative numbers, which is what most of the media loves to focus primarily on (especially the purple line in the first graph as even if the virus slows WAY down, this number will forever continue to grow).
3) The purple line in the second graph is what you want to focus on. This offers the number of NEW daily reported cases and offers a more accurate (and honest) way of keeping our eye on where we really are on the curve, country by country.
4) Once we see that purple line (in the second graph) continually go down, we will then eventually see the yellow line in the first graph go down as well (see South Korea as an example).
Another similar website that is tracking "Daily new confirmed cases" is this website: https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/daily-cases-covid-19?country=ITA+OWID_WRL