Comparing the U.S. COVID-19 curve to other countries
The COVID -19 virus has traveled around the world in a wave, hitting Asia first, then Europe and the Americas. As the data has matured patterns emerged which may provide insights, helping to predict future developments.
Asia was the first region impacted and has progressed furthest towards recovery. South Korea, owing to its extensive testing program, and early, comprehensive containment initiatives provide a baseline for comparison. The curve at left shows the total cases by day for South Korea (always plotted on the secondary axis), Germany and Italy. A clear change in the South Korean trajectory occurs 10-14 days after the countrywide containment initiatives. European countries are just beginning to reach their peak.
The chart at left plots the new cases per day. The top chart is analogous to the distance a car travels, this chart the speed along the journey. A 7-day moving average is applied to the raw data to help smooth out the daily reporting inconsistencies. South Korean case rate increased rapidly; abruptly slowed and stabilized around 100 new cases per day. The last week has seen a renewed slowing trend. Europe is just beginning to decline, albeit at what appears to be a much more gradual rate than the South Korean curve.
This chart is the acceleration of the car, the rate of new case increase. Again, a 7-day moving average is applied to the raw data. The sharp transition in the South Korean curve is similar to slamming the brakes on a car. The steeper and “cleaner” the transition, the more rapid the deceleration of the case progression. The black lines are the slopes between the highest and lowest points of acceleration. The greater the distance from high to low on the y-axis the “harder” the brakes were applied; on the x-axis the longer the brakes were applied.
The charts above show the US total cases on the left and the new cases per day on the right. It’s difficult to see the total cases growth slowing on the left-hand chart, but the new cases per day chart on the right shows the very beginning of a slow down.
The change is even more pronounced on the graph to the left. When this curve dips below zero it means the new cases per day are declining. The US has just entered this phase.
If the curve continues to decline and fall significantly into the negative numbers the cases per day will fall rapidly, hopefully stabilizing at a small daily increase, before gradually declining to zero like the pattern in South Korea.
Barring any change in the trajectory, the cases/day for the first wave has peaked for Asia, Europe and the US. Declining cases and increasing economic pressure will likely mean a gradual reopening in Europe beginning in the 7-14 days and the US over the next 14 – 28 days.
As the world reopens it is important to understand the disease is still circulating. Regional pockets of rapidly increasing cases are likely to resurface, resulting in shutdowns. Given the past behavior, the mitigation initiatives will restart when the second wave reaches 1-10 cases per 100,000 of a regional population. Reopening will not occur until the change in new case rate reverses and the spread begins to decelerate. Watching the slope of the deceleration curve will be the best predictor of the future.
Jeff is an Engagement Manager at Seraph and leads the Production.Net software division, which provides actionable data capture and visualization for manufacturing firms. He has over 25 years experience in the Automotive and Manufacturing space as the previous COO of Brose North American Operations, and VP of Operations for both Benteler Automotive and JAC Products.
Seraph's team of operational managers and senior consultants intercede on our client's' behalf to fix a crisis that is putting the business at immediate risk, turnaround a situation that is damaging the bottom line or restructuring to improve the balance sheet. Seraph has successfully delivered projects in the following regions: The Americas, Europe, China, and India. Seraph's Industry Expertise Includes Aerospace, Automotive, Energy Infrastructure, Healthcare, and Medical Devices. Through our other operating companies, we are continually looking for distressed situations where we can put our expertise and capital to work to create value.