Dave de Klerk: New approach to Covid-19 data analysis!

So much data, so many inaccuracies. And the sensational headlines are not helping the cause. Just this weekend the Wall Street Journal reported that the data that world leaders based their decision on to lockdown entire countries may be fundamentally flawed. In yet another analysis of the data in this reader mailbox, Dave de Klerk says South Africa looks really good by at least two measures – cases to tests and mortality. – Editor 

By Dave de Klerk

I am a retired actuary living in, or rather locked in, Cape Town.

I recently became aware of the wonderful database at www.worldometers.info with which I’m sure you are familiar.

With the very extensive, real time, coronavirus data they provide, I’ve been playing around with different types of analyses.

Typically most of the world (SA included) looks at absolute numbers, eg new confirmed cases. Today, for example, CNN is full of doom and gloom predictions about Turkey experiencing a “disastrous” increase in cases. Yes they are up by nearly 4,000 cases yesterday. But they tested 35,000 people giving a ration of 11.2% of positive tests to total tests. On 11/4 as you will see from the attached table their cumulative cases/tests was 15.3% and by 18/4 this had dropped to 13.7% and now it is 11.2%. Wonderful news in my opinion. Their mortality rate from my attachment is also very low.

Consider Austria and Germany which feel confident to start opening up. Cases to tests both 8.3% and dropping nicely over the past week, together with very low mortality rates.

But then look at the UK – 24.8% cases to tests and increasing, together with a mortality rate of 13.5%. Disastrous – with the US not much better.

Just last evening, CNN reported that the World Health Organisation had suggested a benchmark for cases/tests before thinking of opening an economy and the US was nowhere near that yet. (If I remember correctly the WHO recommended a 3% – 12% range with the US still close to 20%).

On these two measures South Africa is looking really good – 2.8% of cases to tests and 1.7% mortality, but it is perhaps still early days for us although I am cautiously optimistic. What about you?

As you will see, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand are also all looking good using these parameters.

When Prof Salim Abdool Karim did his presentation last week he concentrated on absolute numbers – the target he mentioned was about 100 positive tests per day. Two days ago, there were about 250 positives but that only translated to about 3.5% because the number of tests had increased so much. We seem to be doing a great job in increasing our testing.

What do you think of this “different approach” to monitoring the situation?

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