Covid-19 – How Little Do We Know

The world is facing its biggest challenge in centuries, not because it’s a very first Pandemic faced by world but because it has proved the world authorities wrong at so many fronts and even the most scientific minds in the world are not able to give us clear answers. The financial gurus are baffled as to what will be the eventual magnitude of this global meltdown and how long it will take the world to come out of the economic crisis.

 

This virus is smart, and it keeps on proving us wrong, just looking at world patterns of disease spread it has not followed norms of any disease faced by the world so far. Scientists are struggling to find answers as to how different regions of the world have shown contrasting patterns of this virus spread. The initial theories of different strains of virus some more virulent than others have not held true, the exponential growth theory has worked in some areas but at others it has followed a different pattern. The Genetic theory also has not held its ground, demographical and geographical factors have also been investigated without producing reasonable answers.

 

I have looked through the Data on 26th April 2020, 6 months after the very first case identification in Wuhan China (November 2019) or 4 months after the beginning of the pandemic in January 2020. Based on the total numbers shown online at Worldometer for COVID 19. If we look at the total number infected today of the 7.8 Billion Population of the world a total of 3.75% (29 Million) have been infected. Following is a case distribution:

 

 

Reference : https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ COVID-19 Pandemic last updated 26th April 2020.

 

 

There is no reasonable explanation of these stats as they do not show a pattern to predict a trend for other population. More than 80% of the cases have happened in Europe and Americas and the relevant death rate is higher than the rest. Yes, there is an increased number of old aged people in these counties due to better health facilities and that with the associated co-morbids may be a reason to some extent.

 

World’s largest population (76%) is concentrated in Asia and Africa and these are by far the most thickly populated areas with minimum healthcare facilities have shown comparatively a very low total number and low death rate other than Oceania which surprisingly is the least affected with best recovery rates so far.

 

A lot more investigations have to be followed into this data once the Pandemic is over to find out the reasons behind such a different behaviour of virus spread, recovery & death rates even if we take into account the lack of testing and underreporting due to faulty data collection still the numbers show a reasonable low infectivity rate.

 

Though it’s a bit early to conclude because this pandemic is by no means over and the daily number of cases are still on a rise in most countries of Asia likewise other countries. The total number of new cases on 25th April were 90722 still 80% of the new cases are still found in Europe and Americas whereas the contribution of Asia and Africa is less than 15%. So, if at all the Epicentre must shift back into Asia the trends are not showing it yet, though there is still a strong possibility that it may return.

 

We can still go and explore the data further, but I would rather leave it for the next time as how the trends will emerge will in 3-4 weeks and may be, we can find some real predictable models. I want to mention a study done by Singapore university of Technology and Design (SUTD) by their Data driven Lab and they derived estimation of end dates for this virus in different countries. These graphs have been based on the pandemic life cycle and predict when the Pandemic might end in respective countries.

 

This is not too authentic as this study is based on Data trends and there is no other scientific evidence to support that and may contain errors, but they have estimated deadline for virus to end by 95-97% and then to a 100% in the world and separately 131 countries in world. (reference: https://ddi.sutd.edu.sg/)
Following are some of the predicted graphs:

 

 

 

The curves show some very interesting patterns based on how quickly the peak is reached and then it is followed by a similarly quick return. Most European and American countries are showing a steeper curve with a similarly steep return to baseline. Asian countries like Pakistan and UAE are showing flatter curves where totally daily numbers are not reaching an alarmingly high levels but the spread is on a longer period.

 

Other thing that we can see that most countries will show an estimated 97% recovery by mid or end of May 2020, but the 100 % estimated recovery may take another month or so for most of them. Going by this model we can expect the world will be relatively out of the Pandemic by end of May 2020 with most of the countries showing very few cases, but to be free of any new cases it might have to wait till end of 2020. This estimated data is only based on available data till date and it does not take into consideration any second wave or re- infections of recovered cases.

 

We wish and hope that this virus follows the usual patterns of viruses and there are no second waves , and the world comes out of it without a lot more loss of lives and our scientists are able to make a potent vaccine to curb a recurrence of this virus in the next flu season.

 

Dr. Muhammad Nasim Sabir
MBBS, FCPS
Pathologist & Microbiologist
Director Laboratory Medicine
Head of Infection Control

PakistanAssociationDubai

PakistanAssociationDubai

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