What do the numbers mean? It’s a mystery. To give you a sensible and calming overview of where we are, here is a quick guide.
This is the most important number to understand how close the disease is. For example, a 1,000 cases per million, this means that one person for every thousand, has it.
How near is that to you?
Well, it’s quite easy. Let’s calculate a bit:
- In a regular family of four, someone in the contact list of one of your phones has it. (Average contacts in a phone is about 300 people, a family of 4 would share some contacts, so… about 1,000 people in 4 phones…)
- In a factory of 2,000 people, two of them have it
- In a football stadium, of 15,000 people, 15 of them have it
- In a school, about 20 students have it. In a university, it is closer to 100
How about 3,500 cases per million?
- Someone on YOUR phone has it
- In an office of 20 people, a close relative, probably living with them, has it
- A 20 story building has 1 or 2 cases
- In a school class, one student or relative has it
Where are we?
Check for real time data…
Newspapers are going to go for the clickbait. Somanythousand died in the last 24h and mortality is 12% or whatever. This is completely meaningless. There are two important factors and only two to consider. One, is the number of tests. The other is how many ICU beds with personnel are available.
In countries like Spain, USA, Italy of UK, the number of ICU beds is running out, and the number of tests is extremely low. That’s why the mortality is about 12%.
Now, 12% means 1 in 8 people with the disease dies. But this number does not come close to the true mortality of the COVID19. The true mortality is that of South Korea or Germany. Both countries are doing tons of testing, chasing those that have been in contact with positive cases, and their ICU occupancy is normal.
In these countries, the mortality is between 1.6% and 2.5%. Yes, 10 to 20 times that of the flu, but not what Italy, US, Iran, UK or Spain are looking at.
Back to our examples from before, this is what happens:
1,000 cases per million population & 10% mortality
- Take your closest 15 friends and relatives, someone they know will die through COVID19
- In a school, 1 student or teacher will die. In a university, it is about 10
- One to two customers of a regular coffee-shop or restaurant
- 3-4 people from in your nearest metro station
3,500 cases per million people and 2% mortality
- More or less the same mortality as a car crash
- A city of one million people will have 7 deaths
When they talk about flattening the curve, they are looking at keeping mortality in that 2%. Which means that ICU beds are available and that we know how many people ACTUALLY carry the virus.
For more info, check here.
Up to 14
Days from getting the virus to developing symptoms
5 to 21
Days from symptoms to case resolution
The average number of people a single infected person will transmit the disease to
Meters distance you need to keep at supermarkets, common areas…
Meters distance you need to keep while running or biking
Seconds to wash your hands with soap
The temperature you need to wash face masks to eradicate the virus
The figures may seem scary at first glance, but the headlines and the numbers without context only seek to make you click on newspaper article or youtube video. Do not be fooled, remain calm, and if you need clarification, leave a comment.