Hindsight and Foresight

Even if we had not started until 23rd march when the lockdown was announced, the epidemic could have been over now in the UK.
If everyone had isolated then and there, then the virus could not have spread any further. 
At that time we had had 508 deaths. 
Mortality is about 1.4% so we must have had around 36,000 cases two weeks before.
The disease was spreading at about 20% per day so by March 23rd we must have had around 800,000 in the UK.  These cases resulted in 14,000 deaths over the next three weeks. But further infection would have been stopped in its tracks.
So how did it continue (and is still continuing) to spread?

  1. Hospitals without adequate PPE spread the disease from patients to staff, and then to staff’s associates.
  2. Infected patients sent to care homes without staff training or PPE spread the disease in the care homes and to visitors and staff and their associates.
  3. People got it  without knowing and would never know as we had no testing and passed it on as they didn’t isolate.

    We can get some idea of the scale of this by comparing the diagnosed UK covid 19 deaths up to the end of May, 38, 934, with the excess deaths compared to last year of 57,961. So for every two recorded deaths, one went unrecorded.

It gives pause for thought that the UK lockdown was announced on 23rd of March, 4 days before Boris Johnson announced he was infected; 3 days after this announcement, Cummings took his controversial trip to Durham.  They must have become infected a week or so earlier than the announcement i.e. around 20th March.

It is ironic that if the UK had started it’s lockdown 1 week earlier, then not only would our death toll be about 4 times lower, but neither Johnson or Cummings would have caught the virus (assuming they would have followed their own guidelines of course).

I do not believe there will be a second wave.  Just a very long tail to this one. As we begin to ease the lockdown, England has a weekly death rate of around 1250. This amounts to 23 per million of population. Reduction rate is about 3% per day.  This is unlikely to get better as lockdown eases, social distancing rules are revised and international travel restarts. It will probably get worse. 

The government only mentions the R value which it never publishes, only saying that it is “less than 1”

I have been calculating R using a 14 day infection period, but I now think it is closer to 7 days. So 3% reduction equates to an R value of 0.8. A value of 0.9 was mentioned on the news today, which I calcuate is a reduction of only 1.5% per day.

At 3% reduction per day it will take England about four weeks to match Scotland’s current death figures (and Scotland figures are reducing by 5-6% per day) , and about ten weeks to reach Germany’s (and Northern Ireland’s) current situation.
But we can expect the reduction to drop to maybe 2% (or worse). That would put us almost six months behind Germany and Northern Ireland.

We will probably only be able to keep R slightly below zero by employing regular local lockdowns for the next six to twelve months and I suspect that mass gatherings like football matches and festivals will still be banned for the rest of the year and beyond.

This is going to be around for some time.

Scotland and N.I, have much lower incidences than England and their numbers are going down at a faster rate.  As inter-home nation travel builds up this will change and probably not in Scotland’s or Ulster’s favour.