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COVID-19 and Geostatistics

Geostatistical curve fitting as used previously, in work on ‘peak oil’ and on the progression of springtime flowering and budding, turned out to be a good predictor of the course of COVID-19 in many countries.

It performed well in forecasting the peak, and then once past peak in fitting the whole epidemic.


Part XX (11-May-2020) Coronavirus lockdown: the end is in sight!

The end is clearly in sight. Let me qualify that statement slightly – the end of phase 1 of the COVID-19 pandemic across Europe is definitely in sight.

Part XIX (09-May-2020) UK and Scottish coronavirus mortalities: how many more deaths will there be?

The UK and Italy have been following very similar COVID-19 pathways. Italy being 15 days ahead, the UK with worse mortality rates. Taking data from the cruise ship Diamond Princess at face value Neil Ferguson’s intervention, which altered the course of the outbreak in the UK, could well have saved 19,000 Scottish lives, rising to a quarter of a million across the UK as a whole.

Part XVIII (30-April-2020) COVID-19. Where are we now? What can we do? What does the future hold?

Despite early warnings, the COVID-19 pandemic took the world by surprise. An effective vaccine remains the world’s best hope. Individuals can and need to manage their risk. I list my top-7 strategic actions for life with COVID-19 when unlocking first gets underway.

Part XVII (28-April-2020)Scotland vs. the United Kingdom

In terms of the course of COVID-19 infections Scotland leads the United Kingdom by two to three days. New COVID-19 infections rose slightly more rapidly to peak in Scotland than in the United Kingdom. Cases of new infections are now declining. Scottish infections are declining at a parallel rate to the UK most likely with a two to three day lead. Per capita numbers in the two regions have been very similar.

Part XVI (27-April-2020)Prof. Roy Thompson vs. the UK’s Chief Medical Officer

5 minutes ago today (18:00 27th April) the Chief Medical Officer for England said the country is not “consistently” past the peak of coronavirus deaths. 4 minutes ago (18:01 27th April) I reconfirmed (graph below), using the latest Government data, that the UK actually passed peak 17.5 days ago.

Part XV (24-April-2020)Beware the sting in the tail…

How will you first know when the COVID19 crisis is over and that it has become safe to abandon social distancing? Read this blog of course. Deaths must lag behind infections. Nevertheless, although it may seem counterintuitive, my current advice is to keep your eye on the number of recorded deaths and not on the number of new infections as your preferred ‘early warning’ indicator.

Part XIV (23-April-2020)Does Vallance show balance?

Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance tonight (23 April) said he expects COVID-19 deaths to ‘plateau’ for the next couple of weeks but will then come down ‘faster’ after that. I disagree. The UK is well past peak. Both reported deaths and new infections are trending downwards. If Vallance hasn’t yet noticed these downward trends how can we have confidence that he is giving sensible advice to the UK government over managing the decline?

Part XIII (21-April-2020)UK COVID-19 model consistently forecasts a rapid decline in daily deaths

UK deaths can be expected to be below 100 a day by 2nd May (in 11 days time) as long as restrictions are not relaxed.

Part XII (20-April-2020)Predicting the pandemic: is COVID-19 modelling useful?

Modelling lies at the heart of understanding how the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading and evolving. Models take centre stage in policy discussions surrounding COVID-19, in clarifying the uncertainties and especially in helping chart the best course forward. On my blog I have been using a geostatistical model (Hubbert’s model) to forecast new infections and deaths due to COVID-19.

Part XI (19-April-2020) Testing, testing, testing

There are serious calls for over a thousand million tests to be made in the USA alone during the COVID-19 epidemic. The aim would be to restore the USA to some normality as quickly as possible. More labs, machines, technicians and health workers would all be needed. Is testing on such a massive scale a satisfactory, realistic plan?

Part X (16-April-2020)When will we know the coronavirus battle is over?

Planning a road map to reopening economies is not going to be easy. Lives have to be weighed against livelihoods. Hubbert’s peak-oil mathematics can offer a helping hand. It can help distinguish an emerging 2nd peak (requiring a re-tightening of restrictions) from minor, short-term fluctuations in infections and death rates (allowing a continued easing of restrictions on movement, travel and work).

Part IX (15-April-2020) Good news. Scotland is ahead of, not behind, the UK!

My modelling places Scotland 4 days ahead of the UK along its COVID-19 trajectory, despite yesterday being the 2nd worst day ever in Scotland for new COVID-19 cases.

Part VIII (14-April-2020) Another day with an underlying downward trend across the UK.

United Kingdom still models as past peak. European countries predicted to have very different final death tallies (on a per capita basis). Scotland doing OK.

Part VII (13-April-2020) Excellent day for UK, COVID-19 peaks

The main health threat (from COVID-19 1st phase) will from today onwards diminish – as long as the UK lockdown is firmly maintained and the public continues to support it.

Part VI (12-April-2020) Bad day for UK as COVID-19 cases surge

Despite yesterday’s surge in new cases and the number of Covid-19 hospital patients who have died in the UK passing the grim 10,000 milestone, I continue to model the peak as being only days away.

Part V (11-April-2020) The UK COVID-19 peak is imminent

Time-series modelling consistently suggests peak COVID-19 is only days away. Based on the pattern of COVID-19 deaths from numerous countries around the world the decline phase can be expected to persist for around the same length of time as the rise. Thus here in Scotland we are about half-way through our social distancing activity.

Part IV (10-April-2020) The UK COVID-19 peak is in sight!

The UK COVID-19 peak looks to be in sight. If you are elderly, or vulnerable, then this is the critical period. In my view the next ten, or so, days is the period to firmly self-isolate while the COVID-19 peak passes through. This is the time to use your food supplies. Stay out of shops. Get food delivered. Stay away from everyone. Stay safe.

Part III (9-April-2020) Is the UKs COVID-19 peak in sight?  Yes!

Peak COVID-19 can indeed now be glimpsed.

Part II (7-April-2020) China / World / Spanish flu

China provides an example of the death rate through a full cycle of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Notice the very symmetrical response.
With a world population (as of 7/April/2020) of 7,776,174,440 the first wave of COVID-19 could well claim 1.5 million lives.
The full death toll from Spanish flu is estimated to have been anywhere from 17 million to 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million.

Part I (6-April-2020)How many global deaths will COVID-19 cause?

COVID-19 can be analysed using a tried and tested methodology previously used with great success by energy-modellers, geologists and phenologists.


Preamble Hubbert’s peak-oil methodology

Using Hubbert’s peak-oil methodology the eventual number of global deaths from COVID-19 can be estimated. Being isolated, with only a chromebook for company, the maths I am embarking on needs to be kept simple. Fortunately Hubbert’s method of estimating both peak oil and remaining recoverable reserves is elegantly straightforward, and eminently transferable to the task of predicting the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. My lack of computing power also explains the low resolution graphics.


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