25 June 2020
Cogito Ergo Non Serviam
After three months of taking shelter at home, various nations have re-opened in one form or another. As science predicted, there followed a surge in coronavirus cases. The purpose of taking cover was to hold down the spread of the disease while governments put in place testing systems, contact tracing infrastructure and quartantine protocols. To the extent they succeeded in doing that, the resurgence in the disease is potentially manageable. That doesn't change the fact that people will die. It merely means that the number can be held down while a vaccine is developed. Some countries have done adequately well while others have failed completely.
The Guardian has done an analysis of just where the world is in the pandemic. Looking at the 45 countries that have more than 25,000 cases, reporters Pablo Gutierrez and Ashley Kirk found that 21 have relaxed their shelter orders. Of the 21, 10 have already reported a rise in the number of new cases per day.
Thomas Hale, associate professor in public policy at the Blavatnik School of Government and research lead for the Oxford Covid-19 government response tracker, said, "Countries that were hit earlier in Asia and Europe, and which managed to contain cases, have moved out of lockdown more quickly.
"We've also seen countries moving quickly out of lockdown when the economic costs become too great -- for example, India. As our lockdown rollback checklist shows, many countries are now moving out of lockdown before meeting the WHO’s recommended conditions."
One of the better managed responses was Germany's, but with the relaxation of the rules there, the rate of spread (R0 to epidemiologists) approached 3. That means each new case was spread to about 3 other people. That is bad. Ideally, the R0 is below 1, which shows the virus dying out over time. Germany is rising from a very low number, however, because its efforts were so effective in the first place. One expects a fine-tuning there to address the rising R0.
Iran loosened up in May, and they are now looking at a second wave (or an additional spike depending on how one wants to view it). Because their rate of positive tests has risen, the number of new cases cannot be ascribed to increased testing alone.
In the US, the three largest states by population have huge increases in the number of new cases. California, where the first lockdown occurred in the country, is now experiencing more cases as the stores are opening again and as Californians hit the beaches, In Texas and Florida, where half-hearted efforts at containment were largely seen as inadequate at the time, records are being set in the number of new cases. In the City of Houston, 97% of the ICU beds are filled, and the city's peak is not expected for several days. Breaking news suggests tomorrow the last 3% will be filled.
As New York, New Jersey and Connecticut reopen, one expects their number of new cases to accelerate as well. The question in the former global epicenter is whether the government and the population are going to be supple enough in answering the challenge to rein in the virus again. One has hopes, but the buses and subways are crowded.
Professor Hale put the matter this way, "The key question is: how have governments used the time they have bought at great expense? If governments roll back measures too quickly, without having put protective policies in place, then they are likely to risk a second wave of cases."
The speculation is about to end, and hard data will replace it.
© Copyright 2020 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.