Trying to see what the data tells us
– A call to action for the US, Iceland, Norway and many others
I went through the exercise of updating the corona-matrix. It reveals what I believe are some challenging findings and leads me to make one big ask to Iceland.
First, I must say, the exercise was truly saddening. The numbers and the story they tell are really sad. There has been a huge increase in the number of persons infected and the fatalities in just 3-4 days.
Turning to the figures, it now appears ever clearer, as one would expect, that the testing approach decides the figures you get.
I have indicatively split between the countries in 3 categories; 1) The testers, 2) The samplers, and 3) The “by indication only”-countries.
Norway places itself on the border between #1 and #2, measured by number of tests per infected. About a dozen countries appear to have a higher testing frequency as measured by this metric.
France, Spain, the US and the UK – among others – place themselves in category 1.
I explained the methodology in my blog https://combatzonebook.com/what-the-tip-of-the-corona-iceb…/
The base for the data on registries is still dated, with partly scattered and inconsistent data. However, my main source, Our World in Data of Oxford, has done a great effort in establishing a database.
Glancing at the numbers, and the number of fatalities, it appears that the “testers” have had most success in containing the virus (South Korea, Taiwan, possibly Australia). The lessons from Japan, though, are also worth understanding. These countries have aimed to identify and quarantine those infected.
More saddening, with such a high testing activity, one would expect that these countries have registered a large ratio of those infected. Hence, here the mortality rate of above 1% may reflect the reality.
Next comes some further challenging observations. Many countries, e.g. Spain, France, Brazil and the US, have a low ratio of tests relative to persons mapped as infected. This may indicate that the number of infected exceeds the registered numbers by a wide margin. This is accentuated by the fact that the corona only recently started to spread itself in these countries.
One would expect, as one moves from category 3 to 2 to 1, that only more severe cases are registered in the latter countries. Consequently, the severity of the ones infected differ. One would assume that this translates into a higher (measured) mortality rate in the category 1 countries. This, as seen, is e.g. a call for action for the US.
Two last comments; On a per capita basis Iceland appears to have a very high testing frequency. Iceland has tested about 3% of its population, as compared to 0,8% in Norway. Now Iceland, with its capable companies in this space, may give a true gift to the world. These companies and the Icelandic scientists are in position to take the lead in understanding the characteristics of how the virus spreads.
Please Iceland! It will be great if at least one country, as it fights the corona, also collects sample data in a structured way.
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I am not a scientist, nor a MD. Having worked with these data I still wanted to share them hoping that others may be inspired to further advance the analysis and extract more valuable insights.