A GLOBAL SUMMARY OF THE COVID-19 VIRUS: ASSESSMENT TO APRIL 2020

This is a top down view of the progress of the Covid-19 virus and the global pandemic. It summarizes information obtained from John Hopkins University, and presented in a different form. The world is divided into 8 regions, and the analysis shows what has been happening to them in the period from March to mid April.

One immediately obvious result is that whereas China (and hence the AsiaPac region) dominated the scene at the beginning of the period, the overall AsiaPac regional performance has been remarkably good. Judging by the figures in the accompanying presentation, it is tempting to think that this region has been through the eye of the storm, and it will be plainer sailing in the next few months.

This clearly cannot be said for either Europe or North America. When the individual European countries are aggregated, the numbers involved are similar to those in North America. The results there being largely driven by the USA.

What is also the case is that fatalities in these “richer” regions have been higher than in the AsiaPac region. Indeed, it is only in countries like Finland, Germany, and Austria, where fatality rates have been kept to low, at least when compared with their neighbours. On the down side, fatality rates in some European countries have been amongst the worst in the world. Italy, Spain and the UK standing out in this respect. While it may be the case that different patterns of inter-generational living and a more elderly demographic have been partly responsible for this relatively poor performance, other factors are also thought to be playing a role. In particular the structure of health care systems, and their levels of equipment may also be contributing to their relatively poor performance.

On examining the figures, a 5-stage cycle can be identified:

  • Stage 1: Few cases, mostly contained. Few fatalities. Virus appears to be under control and is “trapped”. Person to person transmission relatively low.
  • Stage 2: Escape. Covid infects others outside of original ar infection clusters occur in densely populated cities and areas with many vulnerable people (the elderly and those with existing medical conditions). Very rapid growth occurs. Daily growth rate in new cases 30% plus per day.
  • Stage 3: Lockdowns and introduction of other social measures. Infection rates come down as a proportion of total cases. However, in absolute number the daily increase can still be rising.
  • Stage 4: Stabilization. Lock down starts to work. More testing and protective equipment reduces cases/fatalities. There is still some overall growth in cases, fatalities stabilize.
  • Stage 5: Declines in the number of new cases. Declines in the number of fatalities. Probably accompanied by reduction in severity of social control measures.
  • Stage 6: Relaxation of social control and distancing measures. Introduction of measures to protect the vulnerable. Danger of a further second or tertiary infection wave. The possibility of segregation of parts of the population according to their health status.

At the moment only China has reached something like stage 5. And there are still considerable restrictions on movement and activities. As the restrictions have eased, so the number of cases “simmers”, and is not going to zero.

The accompanying presentation provides some charts and figures that make it easier to see the broader trends. It is hoped to continue with this analysis as the crisis develops.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL PRESENTATION HERE.

About the GPI

The Global Policy Institute is a research institute on international affairs. It is based in the City of London, and draws on both a rich pool of international thinkers, academics as well as policy and business professionals. The Institute gives non-partisan guidance to policymakers and decision takers in business, government, and NGOs.

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