Visualizing Coronavirus Growth and Effects

The chart below shows the growth of the coronavirus, Covid-19, since January 15th (Figure 1). Note that other estimates have the number of infections and death outside of China exceeding the Chinese totals. In either case, the growth rate in China is slowing, while the growth rate outside of China is accelerating.

Note that it took the US almost 2 full months to recognize the virus as an emergency, well after several other countries had done so. The US has not been a leader in response to the virus, and in fact trails research teams in Germany in vaccine development. In fact, Germany has accused the US of trying to pirate some of its researchers.

In fact, the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in China dates to November 17th, 2019. The first case outside of China was identified on January 14th, and in the US on January 21st. There was ample time for other countries to prevent the current circus with prompt action.

What’s missing from this chart is an estimate of the hospital bed requirement. That forecast is what’s driving the effort to reduce the rate of infection, to ensure that every country has sufficient resources for those who become sick. My back-of-the-envelop estimate is that if everyone got sick at once, we’d have 11 patients for every hospital bed in the US. Now that would never happen (everyone getting sick at once), but we can’t afford to come anywhere close to that. However, per a non-PC comment by a British social services leader, the coronavirus could free up hospital beds by killing off the bed-ridden elderly.(5)

China’s quarantine efforts have reduced their economic production by roughly 20%. The US hasn’t undertaking the travel restrictions that China has. Nor has the US seen an economic impact that large since the 1930s. See Figure 2. I suspect we’re not done with revisions.

The charts that Stephen Chase published on Linked-In show that the rate of infection in the US approximately mirrors the experience in Spain, Germany and Italy. Those countries have taken stronger measures to control the virus than the US has done.

Even if you’re not a mathematician, you may enjoy this video. My thanks to Josh Libresco for calling it to my attention.

Figure 1: Infection and Death Growth
Figure 2: Revised Economic Forecast due to Covid-19


  4. This is one of several sources writing on this topic.

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