The Coronavirus Post

This post is inspired by an article by Tomas Pueyo, which I believe is compelling reading for understanding the growth of and the control of the COVID-19 outbreak:

Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now

(Update 01/04/20: Pueyo’s follow up article, from 20/3)

I have no idea who Pueyo is, I cannot vouch for his data, and commenters are free to argue against his analysis and his conclusions. I do not claim to know what Pueyo’s analysis might imply for how any particular city or country should be responding at any particular time.

I’m not sure where this post, or this blog, might go for the next while. Nothing is as important to society right now as managing COVID-19. Ironically, I’ll probably have plenty of time sitting at home in the next weeks or months, to write on the standard maths ed topics.

I plan to update this post from time to time, with links to articles and reports that, to my amateur eye, seem considered and important. In general the articles will be linked without comment; linking them means I believe they are worth reading, but I am not pretending to be an expert and I am open to counterclaim on anything. Commenters are also welcome to suggest articles; I may then update the post with a link up high. My general intention, however, is to have fewer articles, of high quality.

To be clear, this post is not particularly intended to be a forum for naive mathematical models, and I don’t intend to engage in that. I’ll also try to lay off the snarkiness, at least in the actual post. Commenters can comment as they wish. If, for example, some Liberal clown or some Greens clown says something stupid on social media, feel free to call it out. But the post itself is intended to promote clear-headed analyses. My other posts will continue to be as charmingly snarky as ever.

UPDATE (19/03/20)

Link 1 Here is the link to the original article, by Thomas Pueyo, that inspired this post:

Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now (and Pueyo’s follow-up article.)

Link 2 Here is a World Health Organisation summary that commenter Steve R gave below:

WHO: Situation Reports (updated 25/03/20: link points to all reports)

Link 3 Here is an comprehensive map from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at John Hopkins University:

CCSE map of global cases

UPDATE (25/03/20)

Below are a few more links (and link 2 above has been redirected). The top two come from David Nagayam Nayagam a sciency friend of ours who sends article-links to an email list. David mostly links to technical-clinical articles. If you want to be added to David’s list, you can email David directly.

Link 4 Our World in Data

OWD: Coronavirus Summary

Link 5 Imperial College analysis of public health measures (widely reported upon)

IC: Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions

Link 6 Snopes factchecking

Snopes: The Coronavirus collection

Link 7 Norman Swan’s podcast

ABC: Coronacast

UPDATE (27/03/20)

More links below, from David Nagayam Nayagam. You can still email David directly, if you wish to be added to his email list. (Also, David’s twitter account contains more day to day information, plus howling at Australia’s idiocy.)

Link 8 University College London National Research Group’s tracking for each country

UCL: Worldwide Growth Rates

Link 9 National Center for Biotechnology Information hub for scientific literature on Covid-19

NCBI: LitCovid Hub

Link 10 A survey and discussion in Lancet on the public use of face masks.

Lancet: Rational use of face masks in the COVID-19 pandemic

UPDATE (01/04/20)

We’ve added a link added to Pueyo’s follow-up article from (20/03)

UPDATE (08/04/20)

More links courtesy of David Nayagam.

Link 11 David Nayagam now has a link for all the clinical articles he sends:

David Nayagam digest

Link 12 The Institute for Health Metrics modelling of required resources:

IHME: Projections

Link 13 An impressive private compilation by “Alexey” of current data

Covidly: Current cases summary

Link 14 ScoMoFo finally releases the Australian government’s modelling:

Australian federal government modelling: Impact

34 Replies to “The Coronavirus Post”

  1. Hi Decrappers

    The basic trick is to try to get R zero less than 1 so the pandemic will die out. It’s a bit late for that now so the strategy appears to be to try to ” flatten the curve” using the PR jargon . Ie lower the R zero rate by social distancing and good hygiene practice etc.

    Scomo clearly was not thinking logically or was badly advised when he considered going to the NRL rather than getting himself tested as a precaution due to his close contact with people now in quarantine

    Steve R

    There are many academic papers on past pandemics for those who are interested eg one on H1N1 which was less virulent.

    1. Thanks, Terry. A very good explanation of exponential growth etc. for anyone who already understands exponential growth etc..

    1. Sorry, Steve, just noticed your comment was caught in spam. A nice article, though the big difference, of course, is the lack of a vaccine.

  2. Now you seem to me to be the sort of guy who could teach him more than a little about social distancing…Disclaimer: This is an entirely personal, non scientific point of view based purely on the content matter observed as being output from this website…(lol)

  3. Many school students are waiting for their CAS calculators to arrive because the calculatiors are stuck in China.

        1. Yes, it’s awful. The main point is to realise how serious it is, and the main problem is that most people are realising way too late. Plus, incompetent governance …

            1. The incompetence of Morrison is indeed awful, and the VCAA goes without saying. But, I meant the awfulness of the coronavirus situation. It’ll be bad in Australia, and much, much worse in America. And a minimum of “bad” everywhere.

        1. Thanks, steve. I’ll update my link above, and add some more links, as soon as I’ve finished battening down the hatches, and screaming at our useless fuck of a prime minister.

    1. Thanks, SR. In what sense is the government “basing” its SD strategy on this paper? Whatever the merits of the modelling (and I’m sceptical), I don’t see that ScoMoFo has any fucking plan whatsoever.

  4. Marti,

    I doubt Scomo has read the paper closely but its publication gives the rest of us a chance to raise any questions as well as the official peer reviewers. Pleae note the Health Warning as there are several different models being tested in other parts of the world .

    As a statistician I am curious to know why the 70% or 80% compliance rate makes such a significant difference to this models end predictions . the news briefings were using these charts widely yesterday
    to justify the governments actions.

    Steve R

    1. Christ, Steve. “Raising questions” has nothing to do with it. The only question is whether ScoMoFo has an ounce of competence, and the answer to that is entirely obvious and frightening as all hell.

  5. Marti,

    Sorry I didn’t mean to agitate you 😃

    Luckily we have your blog to keep us sane and challenge the bad decisions.

    Stay well

    Steve R

  6. Hi Marti

    I found Mr Murphy a little defensive of some of his past actions but it easy to be critical with the benefit of hindsight .

    I am not sure or Norman Swan’s qualifications either but I find his speaks with clarity to a general audience.

    Unfortunately once the virus becomes widespread their are few options to reduce the infection rate without lockdown . As testing the majority of an entire population is impractical in the short term with 25 million people they appear to be concentrating on high risk suspected cases.


    1. Steve, plenty of people, such as Pueyo and Donald McNeill, were (and still are) critical with foresight. I was referring, however, to another aspect.

      Official officers, such as Murphy, are constrained in what they can say publicly, or at least in what they believe they can say publicly, especially if they’re standing side by side with Morrison. Whatever Murphy may be telling Morrison in private, there is every reason to question whether Murphy et al are being open and honest. Norman Swan has no such constraints.

  7. Marti,

    Agreed their may be a government censor on Murphy which is why we need a free press to challenge the rationale behind the decisions which ideally should be apolitical ?!

    Steve R

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