After six months of the pandemic things seem to be worsening again. In trying to understand for myself what is going on I have prepared my own set of indicators on my own Covid dashboard.
The scientists suggested last Monday that cases might double every week and reach 50,000 per day in October and that deaths could then be 200 per day. They said it wasn’t a prediction but they suggested no other scenarios. This grim presentation without any politicians present and without any questions allowed was followed by the Prime Minister’s statement a day later. As it turned out the reality of the changes that were announced appeared to me to be fairly minor, however, the direction of travel was made clear. We seem to be moving backwards now with recent relaxations of the lockdown being tightened up again. One month ago, those working from home were urged to return to the office, and now they are being urged to work from home again, if they are able.
The suggestion that cases were doubling every week would be worrying but many commentators weren’t buying that. Nor was I. The government data can be found online. I decided to prepare my own analysis of that government data. I took the data as at 24 September and prepared my own analysis and graphs. (I may update this data in future.)
|Date||Tested positive, 7 day average||Tested positive, 7 day growth %|
My first graph shows the 7-day growth in the moving average of daily cases starting from 12 August. As I understand it, this is using the number of those testing positive and the date of the test. I am using a moving average to smooth out any daily bumps in the statistics. I am using 7-days so as to avoid any weekend timing issues. Growth in cases measured this way did hit 109% on 7 September, i.e. an average of 2,886 compared to 1,379 for the previous week. From that peak the growth rate has since been lower and was 42.17% on 21 September.
My second graph shows the number of Covid patients in hospital. This had been fairly stable and below 1,000 from 12 August until 14 September. It then increased 59.98% in the week to 21 September from 922 to 1,475. This compares to a peak of 19,872 on 12 April and a low of 723 on 11 September.
|Date||Deaths, 7 day average||Deaths, 7 day growth %|
My third graph shows the 7-day growth in the moving average of daily deaths starting from 12 August. As I understand it, this is using the date of the death and not the day it was reported. I’m starting from 12 August because that was when the death statistics were re-stated. The average daily deaths were 10 or less from 12 August to 10 September. This grew to be 19 on 17 September and is now showing a growth rate of over 60% from a low base. This compares to a peak of 973 on 12 April and a low of 7 on 4 September and 7 or lower up to 13 March. Prior to the lockdown in March there was a 7-day growth rate of between 461% and 1,250% whereas it has not exceeded 81% in September so far.
I conclude that from my own analysis of the available government data that positive tests, hospital cases and deaths have all risen but not on the scale that the government scientists suggested. It may be that they are using other data that supports their scenario, or that it was a worst-case scenario intended to encourage us to comply with current and future restrictions. If this is indicative of government thinking then it suggests we are headed for more restrictions than were announced last Tuesday.
As I see it there is a risk to me and my family and friends and the wider community from Coronavirus. On that basis I understand the need to maintain social distancing outside of the home, to wash our hands more often, to wear masks in shops and when not sitting down in hospitality venues. I do not agree, however, with any new full lockdown, nor with closing schools. I can agree with only minimal additional restrictions, and prefer that they be local rather than national. I believe we can’t afford further damage to our economy or our children’s education. Those most at risk, with specific conditions, or in care homes, should be advised of the risks to them and could be shielded. Those not at high risk should be free to decide what additional precautions they wish to take and to get on with their lives as they wish. I also think parliament should properly debate and scrutinise any future changes, including the health and economic trade-offs that may arise. I’m sure others will agree or disagree with me on this.
More restrictions do not bode well for the UK economy and will serve to encourage investors to invest in other countries instead. This is another incentive for me to adjust my portfolio towards international markets.