There’s been a lot of covoptimism this past week, from assorted government spokesfolks, including from people who do know what they’re talking about – a prime example being Prof. Neil Ferguson of Imperial. The theme here is that cases, case rates and the R number have been falling strongly and appear to be continuing to do so.
That’s true, to a point. But our modelling suggests that the immediate future is less rosy.
It’s not about the data – we use the same published sources as the government, albeit that they’ve got access to more sources than we do – it’s more about what you do with it.
Continue reading Proving a Point?
Another Friday update: we’re well into our private Beta of our predictive analytics and what-if? modelling system for Covid-19 analytics.
So what is it telling us today?
As of 3rd February our projections are (within their confidence limits, which of course become broader the further out we look, even if the central projection is tracking the reality curve well), that the R number bottoms out about now for the UK as a whole, with case numbers continuing to fall until around the 9th, by which time R number is back to .92 and, by the 13th, it’s more likely to be above 1 again, mostly driven by the SE (Essex particularly) and Merseyside (see header picture).
Continue reading Building a Better Crystal Ball
On Friday 29th January, the Scottish Government announced that Na h-Eileanan Siar (the Western Isles) is being put into Level 4 lockdown, following a surge of new cases.
On the basis of the data available to us and our modelling approach, we’re not convinced about this decision: it appears to have be made on the basis of out-of-date analysis in an area which turned the corner on this outbreak some time ago.
Our emergent analytics, which generate fresh outlooks every day, suggest that the peak of the outbreak here was passed on 19th January and that it has declined, on multiple metrics, since then.
Continue reading Lagging Decisions, Big Consequences?
We’ve been thinking for some time about how best to present the dynamic of the pandemic in a way that actually shows what’s happening – the R number doesn’t give any idea of magnitude and is – in our opinion – best kept behind the scenes as a contributor to analytic models, raw or compensated case numbers are just that – daily records – shocking enough in themselves but they still don’t show the energy in the thing. Continue reading Kinetics of a Pandemic
We – as a society – had the opportunity to prevent SARS-CoV-2 becoming endemic. We largely wasted it, initially by not locking down early enough or for long enough to remove it from the population. Nor did we use the lockdown period to set up effective data collection, testing, tracking and analytic tools to enable rapid and fine-grained response to predicted changes in incidence (it’s a truism that, by the time you’re working with actual data, you’re already behind in your response).
Public policy decisions are therefore based on incomplete and lagging data, partial models and on individual and committee opinion (however well qualified the participants) rather than being informed by data-driven modelling of potential outcomes. We are also behaving as though we’re dealing with a static target rather than a continuously evolving situation, one where an unintended consequence of partial and incomplete restrictions is that it effectively selects for different strains of the virus, as it evolves to cope with changes in population behaviour. This virus, like any other, has been mutating since before it collided head-on with our species, and it continues to evolve as it seeks selective advantage in exploiting its human host population, at any given time. Continue reading Time for a different approach?