A Worrying Trend

From last week
Mortality continues to increase even as the number of cases and deaths decreases. This is simply because  the disease is now spreading in the older and vulnerable. It now sits at around 2.5%.

Maybe the explanation is not so simple. The panicking government has just tightened the restrictions for Christmas and effectively put London and the South East in lockdown.  The reason given is that there is a new mutation of the virus that is more contagious and is spreading faster than expected.

BUT, looking at stats in other countries we see a similar rise in mortality. The death rate per head of population is currently higher in Germany than the UK.
I measure the mortality as:-

New Deaths this week / New cases two weeks ago

Using this formula:-

  • France has gone from 1.5% to 3.6%, 
  • Germany from 1.1% to 3.4%
  • Austria from 1.4% to 3.7%
  • Belgium from 1.1% to 4.5%
  • Italy from 2.1% to 3%
  • The U.K from 1.8% to 3.1%
  • England from 1.7% to 3.1%
  • Northern Ireland from 1.5% to 2.5%
  • Scotland from 2.9% to 3.2%
  • Wales from 1.9% to 2.8%
  • The USA from 1.4% to 1.3%

in the period from Mid November to now.

It may be the case that this new mutation is not only more contagious but has a higher mortality rate. It seems to be more prevalent in some Northern Europe countries less so here in the U.K, and not at all in the USA.

But the British Medical Journal states
“There is currently no evidence that this strain causes more severe illness, although it is being detected in a wide geography, especially where there are increased cases being detected.”
It also says
There are no data to suggest it had been imported from abroad, so it is likely to have evolved in the UK.

It seems quite possible that the rises in different countries are caused by different mutations.

It does not look like the mortality has peaked yet.  Of course, the testing systems getting swamped would result in a similar apparent rise in the mortality figure, but the testing system is now quite mature. It would need a 50%+ reduction in detection rates to account for the change.

Boris Johnson announced the changes to the restrictions in London and the South East at around 4:30pm on 19th December. No one was allowed to leave after midnight.  As a result trains were crammed, with no social distancing, by folk desperate to get home for Christmas.   How many people caught the virus in a packed train carriage to pass on over the festivities?

Hopefully the vaccines will have a big impact and will be effective on the new mutation(s), but things are going to get worse, maybe much worse,  before they get better.