Exponential Growth – Day 4, Thoughts About The Pandemic

How do we best visualize trends in the pandemic? 

Daily thoughts & numbers on the COVID-19 pandemic from a M.D. working in the front lines at the Emergency Department in a hospital in Stockholm, Sweden. 

People are generally not very good at visualizing or understanding exponential growth since most of our daily life exists on a linear scale. Basically anything that increases with a certain percentage rate will also double every so often. The higher the percentage in increase the closer the intervals between each doubling, which makes it quickly grow into very large numbers. The SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads exponentially at a very high spread rate.

So linear graphs visualizing the spread can fall short of visualizing the trend. Enter minutephysics in collaboration with Aatish: *

Since the number of confirmed cases can be confounded by the number of tests each country takes, below is instead a logarithmic graph with New Reported Confirmed Deaths in the Past Week due to Covid-19 on one axis and Total Reported Deaths on the other in selected countries: *


Judging by the logarithmic graphs there is, so far, no indication that any of the measurements any of the western countries have taken to flatten the curve is yielding any success at all.

If the charts and numbers seem discouraging, remember that the exponential growth of any virus can’t go on forever: *

The spread of the coronavirus will be exponential – which is bad.  But its inevitable decline will also be exponential, which is good. (…) since the number of new cases also depends on the number of infectious people (which declines as folks recover), that will also be exponential, but exponentially decreasing.
– Seth Shostak

COVID-19 Numbers Sweden 2020-03-28 *

  • 102 deaths nationally
    • 63 of them in Stockholm
  • 3 447 confirmed cases nationally
    New confirmed cases daily in Sweden. 
    (Number of COVID-19 cases over time in Sweden, updates during mornings at 14:00 so todays numbers are not yet complete until the next day).
    New confirmed cases accumulated over time in Sweden. 
    (Number of COVID-19 cases over time in Sweden, updates during mornings at 14:00 so todays numbers are not yet complete until the next day).
  • Intensive care Sweden: *
    • 246 COVID-19 confirmed patients treated in the ICU in total so far
    • 9,4 days from symptoms to ICU
    • 27,2 % women
      Total number of recorded of COVID-19 patients needing ICU care each week. From Week 10 it seems to more than double each week, 5 →  24  → 127 → (308 this week up until now, however since it’s only saturday this weeks numbers are yet incomplete)

COVID-19 Numbers Globally (updated today 2020-03-28 at 10:00 CET) *

  • 26 495 confirmed deaths
  • 571 678 confirmed cases
  • 201 countries, areas or territories with cases

Financial Times Cumulative Number of Deaths Selected Countries (updated yesterday 2020-03-27 at 19:00 GMT) *


New Resources Added to ※ CTSOP 

  • John Hopkins – COVID-19 Resource Center, worldwide numbers updated more frequently than WHO.int.

Image: Recommendations for COVID-19 Intubation by canadiEM *

COVID-19 Intubation Recommendations

That’s it until tomorrow, keep calm and stay safe!

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