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Why is Portugal leading the world in average daily fatalities?

This one is puzzling. After following most of the world in seeing reductions post Omicron, the fatality rate in Portugal is increasing. The currently level is 2.8 fatalities per million of population per day. The CDC has a warning on Portugal here

According to Reuters – Portugal has administered almost 24 million doses of vaccine – enough to vaccinate 116% of the population. This begins to make me think – when do we need the next set of boosters? Perhaps Portugal is NOT boosted enough. At this point most of the people I know in the US are vaxxed and boosted.

Average daily data below:

Monthly data below:

May data (to the 27th) shows May is the 3rd highest rate of new cases since inception. Its also the 3rd highest level of monthly deaths in the last 15 months (that is since February 2021).

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Russia is late to the Omicron party – let’s hope that slows their war with Ukraine

While most of the west has peaked regarding Omicron and is now starting to see fatalities fall – the Russian picture isn’t as rosy. Official numbers (source WHO) show cases have peaked – but fatalities are still relatively high at 5.3 per million per day.

The UK has average daily fatalities down to 1 per million per day. But notice the peak case rate which is much higher than Russia’s official numbers.

US is trending down and also had peak cases much higher than Russia’s

France is doing a wonderful job on reducing cases and fatalities:

A review of the peak case rates in many countries for Omicron makes me believe that the Russian numbers look under reported. If that’s the case then I hope that this creates further challenges for their war effort.

Here’s the Ukraine chart – but given the war I would, unfortunately, not rely on the data.

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A formula for risk staffing drives the transition from Risk Adminstration to Risk Value Add

How many people does it take to run a risk function? This is a question I’ve been pondering for almost 20 years. After much deliberation here’s the formula:

Risk Staffing (RS) is a function of Risk Weighted Assets (RWA) – divided by Average Salary – and a function of Risk Maturity (RM), Front Line Maturity (FLM), Systems of Record (SOR), and Data Quality (DQ). Lets take a look at each of these individually and intuitively:

RWA

This is pretty intuitive. An organization with $300bn of RWA focused on operational risk is likely going to need a lot more people than one which has $60bn of RWA. Not necessarily 5x – but directionally at least.

Average salary

To be honest – I put that in here because RWA’s are measured in billions and the numbers are so huge we need to convert this to capital by dividing by 12.5 – and then convert into people by dividing by an average salary. Assuming an average salary of $200k per person a firm with $300bn op risk rwa ($24bn capital) would result in over 100,000 people. This is why the other factors of the formula come to the forefront.

Risk Maturity

Here’s the challenge – we don’t know what we don’t know. Back in 2003 Operational Risk was in its infancy. At that time, looking at past losses, most organizations thought that the ‘one in 1000 year event’ (the Basel capital standard) would be around $4bn of losses or about $50bn of rwa’s.

External factors influence Risk Maturity. Think about new regulatory rules and standards – and also think about what your peers are doing. Individual loss events at peer events can create seismic after shocks that ripple through the banking industry. As an example think of the Enron bankruptcy in 2001 – which lead to the creation of Sarbanes Oxley. How many firms thought their controls and staffing over financial reporting risk were adequate prior to 2001? Probably all of them.

Front Line Maturity

Its 100% true that the business, or front line, must understand and own its risks. Risk Management is never someonelse’s job. That then sets the perpetual temptation that in nirvana front line units are so effective in managing risk that we only need a small second line of defense. I don’t want to say that’s nirvana is impossible because but I can say that in my 20 years of experience we have not reached nirvana yet!

I worked at Merrill Lynch prior to the financial crises and internally we all (probably like many in the industry) thought we understood and managed risk well. Take a read of this CNN Q&A with the CEO of the time – Stan O’Neal:

I never stopped looking at the risk reports. It turns out they didn’t properly capture the nature of the risk. I now understand why, but it obviously doesn’t matter.

CNN Money interview in 2010 with Stan O’Neal

That said – for the purpose of this formula – we can acknowledge that if businesses have demonstrated complete grasp of risks then the size of the independent risk management function becomes smaller.

Systems of Record

Think about credit risk or market risk. What do they have that operational risk does not have? Answer GREAT SYSTEMS OF RECORD. Its not “SOME” loans that are entered into credit risk systems but rather “EVERY LOAN”. Its not some trading risk position – but rather every trading risk position. You get the picture. Great systems of record – updated timely allow firms to manage risks better.

Op Risk in its diverse nature has some risks that lend itself to good systems of record – but many types of Op risk don’t have those yet. Prior to the market conduct related events of the early 2010’s how many firms had good systems of records to detect such risks? To be honest – not many. This past decade has seen a huge level of investment in many firms surveillance systems and practices to address prior shortcomings.

More can be done to drive operational risk towards systems of record to more accurately manage those risks. Infrequent control ‘attestations’ that individuals have executed controls – are no substitute for the kind of ‘system of record’ driven insights that can be derived ‘near real time’.

So – back to the formula – the more you have good systems of record for specific risks; updated dynamically, the lower the level of staffing needed in risk functions.

Data Quality

Data Quality has always been critical – but it took the publication of BCBS 239 in 2013 to establish standards to ensure reporting to boards of directors are complete and accurate.

The intended effective date of 2016 for these principles was not met – and we see recent examples today of firms facing significant fines for failures in their risk reporting. The Citibank $400m penalty from the OCC related to “deficiencies in enterprise-wide risk management, compliance risk management, data governance, and internal controls”.

In 2020 the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision published a progress report on BCBS 239. At that time none of the banks surveyed were fully compliant with the principles.

None of the banks are fully compliant with the Principles in terms of building up the necessary data architecture and, for many, IT infrastructure remains difficult. But banks’ efforts to implement the Principles have resulted in tangible progress in several key areas, including governance, risk data aggregation capabilities and reporting practices

BIS: Progress in adopting the principles for effective risk data aggregation and risk reporting

Data is very challenging but the effort is worth it, not least from avoiding penalities, but from improvements in risk transparency and speed of decision making.

Putting it together

While I don’t have all the coefficients empirically tested – I do know this – having great systems of record and great data can make a huge impact on the staffing levels of risk functions. I’d easily guess this to be coefficients of 10 – each – so a 100x benefit.

Front Line Maturity and Risk Maturity are always tricky to evaluate. Hubris comes into play here because we naturally think we have all the risks covered – and we all (front line included) tend to think we are better at managing risk than we really are. The nirvana of a ‘perfect’ 

Back to my formula – and the example of the $300bn RWA firm ($24bn of capital). If it scored the worst (1 out of 10 for each dimension) – we would need 120,000 risk people. If it scored the best (perfect front line, perfect maturity, perfect data, perfect systems) – you may just need 12 people. Either extreme is unrealistic.

The value of the formula comes in measuring maturity over time. Is your data improving? is the Front Line getting better at identifying an managing risk? If so there is a clear path to efficient and effective risk staffing.

Did a firm get hit with a large penalty and a significant set of new regulatory requirements. If so then the hubris needs to be corrected – and the parameters of the formula updated to reflect reality. Inevitably we know that this will reactively result in increased staffing.

Risk functions are never static. This formula intuitively explains the factors to support why staffing needs increase or decrease over time. It can be used to make the case for improvements in data quality and systems of record.

Without maturity in these factors; risk departments need a lot of people to try to manage the risk — which in turn increases risk administration. Administration tends to feed on itself — creating yet more adminstration.

Do you want to create an efficient, effective and value add risk function? Then work on the factors identified here!

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January 2022 – how was it for you? It was Australia’s worst for COVID.

Let’s start with the US wrap up for COVID in January 2022 – in the context of prior month trends. Over 20 million covid cases reported – that’s the highest ever case number; higher even than India during the Delta surge. January recorded 59,000 deaths. Only 3 months have recorded more deaths in this pandemic. Total US deaths are now approaching 900,000.

Still think OMICRON is less troublesome….. when a very big number (like 20 million) gets multiplied by a small number (Omicron fatality rate)… its still a big number. Current average daily fatalities are about 2,400 total for the US. Only in January/ February 2021 have we exceeded those rates.

Average daily trend (this chart is a little busy… I need to edit my macros as I didn’t plan to be sustaining a 2 year time series!). Data points are plotted at month end (and max) points. Clearly cases have peaked!

State data as of 2-2-22

I had to recalibrate my US heat maps because Omicron numbers are so large – but lets cut to the chase and look at the average daily fatality rate across the states. Red is more than 10 fatalities per million per day…very high

As for one example – my home state of Tennessee has an average of 10.7 fatalities per million per day. That translates to single digit availability of hospital and ICU beds:

I’d expect a similar picture across many of the states in red.

While several states have certainly peaked (see NY below); case levels are still very high across the country (2nd chart below)

For those that prefer tables to pictures – here’s the data:

Alaska leading the way on per capita basis

Mississippi is having a very significant surge in fatalities:

Global Context

Here’s India – just to put the US 20 million cases in Jan into context. India recorded 6.5 million cases:

France is currently one of the leading countries in the world for new cases. Over 9 million cases recorded in January – in a country with about 1/5th the population of the US.

Denmark (small population) is leading the world in per capita cases. It recorded almost 1 million cases – and the second highest month for fatalities in its history. Fully 15% of its population tested positive in January. How long until herd immunity?

Israel – almost the exact same numbers play out here. 17% of the population tested positive for COVID in January. It was the 7th highest month for covid deaths.

Africa is recording very little cases – and the epicenter of Omicron (South Africa) has clearly moved past its peak. A look at the global map shows very little activity. I’m not sure if I can put the same level of confidence in this data as we do for US and Europe. Notice how France, Denmark and Israel stand out:

Australia has fully joined the Omicron surge with average daily per capita cases in excess of 2,800. Its kind of shocking to see how an island nation with tough lock downs can have been so successful for some many months – only to see Omicron surge this way. January was the highest ever month for COVID fatalities.

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UK has definitely peaked on Omicron

The UK has definitely peaked on Omicron – as can be seen from the chart below. Cases now are a little over half of the peak values. Looking at the charts – the peak is about 1 month after daily cases per capita exceeded 600 cases per million. Fatalities not yet falling.

The Uk is the only European country experiencing this pattern – most others are still rising

Across the world we can now easily see the rise of Omicron in the global numbers. Over 20 million cases in the most recent week. It now eclipses prior peaks.

Fatalities are not rising strongly yet in the WHO data.

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Where has Omicron peaked?

Could Omicron have peaked in some countries – and if so – what are the implications for the US? Lets take a look at a few charts:

The UK looks to have peaked on cases, but fatalities are still climbing – and generally very high for this country. UK cases declined this week at about a 25% rate.

Germany – looked to have peaked – likely due to delta – but is on the upswing again. Notice though that cases per capita are about one third those of the UK.

South Africa discovered Omicron – so this is a good place to focus. Too early to say if fatalities have peaked – but cases are approximately ¼ of the recent peak in December. Average daily cases also fell by about 27% week over week (similar to the UK). So looking at this chart – it seems the Omicron peak lasts about 4 to 6 weeks.

France is the #2 country in the world for new cases – around 4,000 cases per million per day. That’s almost double the rate of case creation as the US. Over 3 million cases recorded this month to date. Fatalities this month will likely be the highest for the past 8 months.

US impact

Lets try to assess the impact on the US.

The US has still not yet peaked – so hard to say when we can begin to predict the end of Omicron – but I would throw out a 3 – 4 week guess at this point. The challenge here is that the UK data shows a lag in the fatality curve, so hospitalizations and fatalities will likely increase still further.

So far this month (to approximately the mid month) we are at 9.5 million new cases of COVID. A pandemic record for the US.

For a moment – think about the disruption to services; flights; transportation & trucking that comes with that many people having to isolate for 5+ days.

Average daily fatalities are around 1700 – so that puts a prediction on the number of fatalities this month at around 51,000. It will certainly be the highest in the past 4 months – and possibly the highest in the last 10 months. We’ll follow up on that at the end of the month.

What’s happening inside the US

New York, New Jersey and a limited few others – may have peaked for new cases. However both have VERY HIGH levels of fatalities – over 9 fatalities per million per day. Looking at the charts it seems the peak of cases is about 5 weeks after per capita cases break through 250 cases per million per day.

A similar story plays out for Washington DC

Many states are still surging on Omicron – with no signs of peaking

Here are four neighboring states all with rising Omicron cases:

There really isn’t any state that is not experiencing very high levels of COVID cases right now:

And many states are at high levels of per capita fatalities. Indiana is currently leading the country with 13 fatalities per million per day.

Fatalities league table – 6 states have more than 10 fatalities per million per day

Southern Hempisphere

Interesting to note – that initially the Southern Hemisphere (ex South Africa) seemed to have skipped the Omicron surge – well not anymore. A hot topic right now is the Australia Tennis competiton – and the status of Novak Djokovic. Well that country is SURGING right now:

Omicron is no Djok in Australia. So far this month the highest level of positive cases since inception.

We get a similar situation in Argentina although, as we see from the chart, Argentina has been less successful overall in controlling prior COVID variants.

Predictions

Expect more significant supply chain disrputions for the next month. Omicron is just starting to hit the Southern Hempisphere – and if it hits some of the key producing nations for good and electronics – this could be significant (think China; Singapore; South Korea; Japan etc)

Its not inconceivable that there will be another approximate 50,000 deaths by end February – meaning that the US could have recorded 900,000 deaths total by end Feb.

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70,000 people are testing positive per day in NY

The state of New York, population 19 million is currently experiencing 70,000 positive new tests per day . That’s about 0.4% of the population every day!

Here’s the number of positive tests for the first week:

Average deaths are about 100 per day over the same period.

Here’s the graphical trend – per capita at the state level. Notice the rate of fatalities has tripled in the past 3 weeks. While Omicron may be less severe in percentage terms; the sheer spread of Omicron can still result in large numbers of fatalities.

A closer look at New York City reveals the huge rate of new cases (about 40% of new cases from the state are in NYC). That’s about 1.5% of the population – every day!

A similar story is playing out in NJ. Here is the results for Essex County, NJ – over 4,000 new positive cases, per million, per dayy.

Tennessee

Tennessee is not quite as bad – just yet. Shelby County is one of the highest (cases are similar to Essex County, NJ):

Davidson county has typically been less impact by COVID than Shelby – and current trends support the same trend:

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Good Bye 2021

After a tough start to the year, 2021 held the promise of vaccine rollout and reduced cases and fatalities. That worked really well as vulnerable people got vaccinated and eventually vaccines became available for all. By the end of the year vaccines were available for children and over 8bn – yes EIGHT BILLION doses of vaccine were administered world wide.

Unfortunately the delta variant caused a major flair up in India in April / May – which then eventually became the cause for most cases and deaths in the US in Q3 2021.

Now we’re dealing with Omicron surge – identified in South Africa in Nov / December – and very rapidly becoming the source for new cases here in the US.

As we end the year – the pressure on the hospital system over the next 2 to 3 months will be intense – but (i’m no expert here) – I’m hoping this burns itself out after that. That said 2021 was our most deadly year of the pandemic – over 460,000 deaths (compared to 350,000 in 2020). Total US lives lost due to COVID are over 800,000. On official stats – that’s the most in the world – but I suspect that some other countries have less reliable statistics.

Here are some key charts:

Firstly the average daily trend – with month end values plotted. This clearly shows we are at the begining of an exponential curve. Thankfully the fatality rare is not as high as the prior peak – but an average of 4.8 daily fatalities per million of population per day is significant. [Isolated data point here: Tennessee covid hospital capacity is around 10% today]

Viewing the same data monthly – we clearly see December 2021 is the 3rd highest month for cases of all time – 4.5 million cases recorded; 37,000 deaths:

The chart also shows the initial success of vaccine rollout (through June 2021) – and then the upswing in the more virulent Delta variant. December of course marks the begining of the Omicron wave.

New York

Lets review NY as one example. Here the unprecedented impact of the Omicron wave is very evident. NY did better in 2021 than in 2020. It recorded 21,000 deaths this year – compared to 37,000 in the prior year.

Average daily statistics:

Monthly trends:

Fatalities in December of 1,944 are significantly up on the prior month of 1,054 – that up over 80%.

Vermont – the best state in the US:

Vermont is the best state so far for per capita fatalities – just 750 per million – but has a sharply rising case and fatality curve. Also note the entire population of Vermont is just 630,000 people.

Mississippi – highest per capita fatalities

The state with the highest overall number of fatalities per capita is Mississippi with 3,500 fatalities per million. Here’s how that state was impacted by COVID. Just over 10,000 fatalities on a population of 3 million.

Average daily cases are starting to increase significantly due to Omicron. See right hand side of the below chart.

California

California deserves a lot of credit. Its the most populated state in the country with over 39 million people. Total per capita fatalities are 1,940 per million – which is 50% less than NY, NJ, Arizona etc per capita. This is how it handled the COVID cases:

Texas

Texas is the second most populus state – with over 29 million residents. Its total fatalities per capita are 2,687 – or basically 39% higher than CA. Basically Texas got hit much more severely with the Delta wave. September 2021 came very close to the record number of deaths in January 2021.

Everyone else

Here are a few league tables for all the States + DC:

All fatalities – per capita since inception:

Current new case rates per capita

Current fatalities:

Over 580 counties in America have elevated covid case rates (defined as over 200 cases per million per day) – and of these 224 have an average of more than 3 fatalities per million per day. Here’s a look at some of the highest with large populations:

You’ll notice that Michigan features prominently on the list. Here’s how that data plays out across the state. You can see that December was the highest month on record for COVID fatalities. This resulted in 2021 recording more deaths than in 2020 (15,000 versus 13,000).

2022

As noted in the intro, 2022 will get off to a very rough start – but I am hopeful that this wave will be the final one. It feels like the final wildfire on already partially scorched earth. So much as I hope the news was better today – I feel optimistic that from Q2 onwards we start to see the final return to normalcy.

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Europe sets new records

WHO global data shows the following data for new cases – basically virtually matching the peak from April / May (driven out of India and South East Asia). Notice how the green portion of the chart is growing significantly – which is Europe.

Here’s a closer look at the Europe case trend. As you can see – very clearly a record.

Cases at record levels: WHO data

Here’s a closer look at Europe deaths. These are not at the same levels as this time last year (pre vaccination) – but certainly very high. About 60% of prior peaks. Something to be very concerned about.

Fatalities not at the levels of prevaccination – but very high

My prior posts have provided the detail on some of the these countries – but here’s a brief recap of some:

  • UK has record high cases but fatalities relatively well controlled in percentage terms
  • France and Italy have high number of cases and steadily rising fatality curves
  • Spain appears to be doing the best at controlling fatalities
  • Germany appears to have bent the curve but fatality levels are still high; in fact the highest in the vaccination era.

Looking at the monthly charts it’s easy to see the Omicron spread is unprecedented in its rapid pace of spread. Solid bars show number of cases with top 3 values highlighted.

Germany will likely hit a record number of cases in December 2021

We are expecting this wave to burn itself out quickly… but this still makes for a bumpy road with pressure on hospital systems. In my next blog – we’ll aready see that in the US hospital capacity is coming under pressure and we are not yet as far along the Omicron curve as Europe.

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Fasten your seat belt – Very high case counts in Europe may set the precendence for the US.

Take a look at the charts below – which highlight since inception the top 3 months for absolute number of covid cases in each of the countries shown. Notably an off the charts rise in cases in some countries – due to Omicron. Likely also due to a much better testing regime. But the data clearly show that we are in an unprecedented surge – and also note – we are not yet at the end of the month (so December data is incomplete).

Here we go:

Where Omicron was first detected – South Africa

Current data in the US isn’t hitting one of the top 3 months of all time yet.

But the European data shows what the US can expect. The number of cases identified in France in December to date is 3x that of November – and higher than any other month in its history!

For Germany the last 2 months have been the highest – by a long margin. Also note the substantially increasing fatalities curve. Fatalities in December are 17 times higher than the low point post vaccination (August 2021).

Let’s take a quick look at the league tables. 6 European countries all have new cases per million per day over 1000

Spain shows a very high month in December – over 5x that of November

Denmark has the same pattern – along with a significant spike in fatalities

Ireland has the huge spike in cases, and a gradually and persistent rise in fatalities

UK appears to have a huge spike in cases but fatalities are relatively the same for the past 4 months. Notice how the UK fatality rate came down very quickly in early 2021 – following a very rapid vaccine rollout (opting to defer issuing the 2nd shot until many people had received the first shot).

But now the importance of getting boosted is getting reflected in the UK data. November fatalities in the UK are 15 times higher than the lowest level of fatalities post vaccination rollout.

While it may be too early to conclude – fatalities in this wave are a lot lower than the previous peaks in Dec 2020 / Jan 2021 – mostly resulting from the availability of vaccinations. But having said that a number of countries are experiencing fatality rates more than 10x the post vaccination lows. That’s going to put stress on the hospital systems of those countries.

How do we model this data for the US?

If the fatality curve of the European countries like Germany and the UK predicts the future for the US – then 10x the post vaccination low in deaths (July 2021) would be about 90,000 deaths per month. That is clearly going to be a stressful level for the hospital system.

Is that too unrealistic to contemplate? Well – lets look at NY.

December cases are already a record high – and almost 3x higher than in November. And current monthly fatalities are rising – and are 9x higher than the post vaccination low of 171.

While NY has a jump start on many states re Omicron – the wave is clearly spreading – from Maine to Colorado and Washington:

Buckle up – this is going to be challenging couple of months ahead.

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Over 50 million covid cases in the US

Startling fact: the US has recorded over 50 million cases of COVID since inception. Our total (as of Dec 24th) is around 51 million – and with an average of just over 150,000 new cases per day. Without a doubt, Omicron is now fueling a fresh set of growth – as we can see from the hotspots in the chart below.

An in aggregate the impact on the US is significant:

So far this month, over 3 million new covid cases, and 29,000 deaths have been recorded. Expect close to 40,000 deaths by the end of the month. At this point I can’t help reflect how we were at ‘only’ 9000 deaths in the month of July. The world has moved on; Delta took hold; and now Omicron is spreading rapidly.

Here are the current fatality hot spots – all expressed in per capita numbers:

Note: Tennessee is likely due to a data anomaly – or a catch up recording of deaths that were previously not reported. The New York Times data shows a large spike in deaths on Dec 23rd.

NY cases have risen sharply. Fatalities appear to be stable – but we do not have a full month of data for December yet. Expect fatalities in Dec to be at least 50% higher than the prior 3 month average:

Michigan looks precarious:

Seems to have gotten the Delta wave under control – reflected in the lower case levels recently.

But zoom out to the monthly trend – and this looks like a health care system under pressure. This could well be one of the deadliest months for Michigan.

Global view:

Globally the story is somewhat similar. While the UK, France and Italy have a much higher rate of COVID spread; fatalities are far below the US levels. Likely due to a higher levels of vaccinations.

Here’s a quick look at the league tables for current cases and fatalities before we explore some charts

Germany did have a significant ramp up in cases and fatalities, but enacted restrictions on those who were unvaccinated and fatalities now seem to be levelling off.

South Africa; the country that detected Omicron has relatively few deaths from COVID

Eastern Europe is still suffering heavily from Delta – and likely Omicron as well

There are very high current fatality rates in these countries:

Russia has high fatalities but low case numbers; likely reflecting insufficient testing

The sun contibues to shine in South America:

The Southern hemisphere (excluding South Africa) is doing very well. Maybe we should have taken that trip to Costa Rica after all!

There’s no doubt about Brazil’s progress month over month:

Or that of Peru:

Oh well Costa Rica – maybe we’ll visit next year:

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US Cases Sharply Rising Again Dec 12 2021

US cases are undeniably on the rise again – no doubt due to the colder weather and holiday driven socializing.

The US is currently recording approximately 120,000 new cases and 1,255 fatalities per day – and I don’t see that coming down significantly over this holiday period.

It basically the same story in the UK (albeit with lower levels of fatalities)

Germany is also on a major upswing – driven by its closer proximity to the Eastern Europe spread we noted in earlier blogs

By contrast Southern Hemisphere countries are mostly doing well

What’s driving the US?

Its likely mainly Delta – and not Omicron yet. Here’s the highest areas of new cases per capita. Florida – I’ll be there for Xmas! Notice both Maine and NY have very high levels of cases.

Fatalities are mostly in line with this trend. Oregon has likely peaked (on Delta) given the rate of new cases.

Lets deep dive into Michigan – which shows a very high case rate and double digit fatality rate. Basically gradual and persistent rises since August.

New York is having a faster increase in cases and fatalities – rightly prompting the governor to take action.

Florida is doing the reverse. Their most recent peak was in mid-September – which we’d assume would be a wake up call for many to get vaccinated.

Kentucky unfortunately had record setting tornados to contend with on top of a troubling set of COVID results. Currently about the same level of per capital fatalities as Michigan.

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COVID Global Outlook: Germany puts the brakes on – and for good reason. Eastern Europe still dealing with Delta.

See the following news headline from this week:

Germany announced severe restrictions on unvaccinated people, banning them from nonessential stores, recreational venues, and more.

Merkel announced the measures after a meeting with federal and state leaders, as the nation again topped 70,000 newly confirmed cases in a 24-hour period. She said the steps were necessary to address concerns that hospitals could become overloaded with patients suffering from COVID-19 infections, which are much more likely to be serious in people who have not been vaccinated.

Note that throught this crisis, managing to hospital capacity has always been a challenge. With the new variant potentially having greater transmissibility this puts any population of people who are unvaccinated at greater risk. That in turn has a potential impact on hospital capacity.

Here’s the German COVID curve (per capita) over the past 4 months. No doubt about it – this looks closely like an exponential curve to me.

Fatalities in November were higher than any month since May 2021. Basically the highest in 6 months and more than double the prior month

South Africa:

So far at least South Africa results are relatively low per capita … but hard to say whether there is complete and accurate data here:

However – looking at the World Health Organization data – the largest growth in cases week over week is mainly in African countries or those with strong affiliations. Clearly there are some small populations in many of these countries – so small changes in data can have a big percentage impact – but it pays to keep an eye on the longer term trends.

In the case of French Polynesia (population 280,000) the WHO database recorded 683 new cases on Nov 30th – wherease typically 1 or 2. Looks like they are catching up on a backlog of testing or administration.

Current global fatality rates

Delta is still driving the majority of cases and fatalities with Eastern Europe most affected. Hungary continues in #1 spot recording its 4th highest monthly total of deaths in November since COVID began.

Monthly totals for COVID (December 2021 is thru Dec 3rd). November 2021 is the 4th highest on record.

Bulgaria appears to be coming out of the current crisis albeit with currently very high fatality rates

Outlook:

Global cases are again on an upswing. Notice the rising number of cases in the chart below. At about 4m new cases per week – that’s more than 40% greater than week begining October 11th

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Success in the South – but Northern US getting hit hard. It ain’t over yet.

A surprising picture emerges from the data today: Notice how most of the Southern states have low levels of new covid cases.

And compare this with the same view from end August 2021.

The deep red of the south we see at end August has been completely eliminated today. Take a look at the dramatic reduction for Florida. From almost 1000 new cases per million per day at the end of August to just 64 new cases per million per day today.

Fatalities

Fatalities today have started to shift away from Southern States. Missouri, Kentucky and Montanta are experiencing the highest per capita levels of fatalities.

Here’s the same picture from end August:

Again notice the concentration in the Southern States. Florida substantially improved.

Overall US Trend

The impact of cases away from the south did result in some reduction of cases and fatalities through late October. However there has been a noticeable uptick since December of both cases and fatalities.

Results by State – League Tables

Michigan, Minnesotta and New Hampshire are recordng very high levels of new cases.

Missouri:

The data for Missouri looks like a sharp spike typically due to a correction in the data (in this an upward revision in the fatality numbers)

Kentucky has a serious high fatality rate – and I would be concerned about hospital capacity if I lived there. This is a terrible position to be in during the holiday period.

Tennessee seems to have pulled the case numbers down significantly – but overall fatalities are still high at 3.7 per million per day.

Michigan is in a state of concern with a persistent upward trend in both cases and fatalities

Pennsylvania shows a similar, concerning, trend

What can you say about North Dakota…. very small population so hard to compare directly with other states – but a very different position since August this year. Basically within a 2 month period – what looked like a controlled position – has changed into high levels of cases and fatalities.

Conclusion

With many northern states showing a severe uptick in cases and fatalities on the early start to the holiday season this does not present a positive picture for the next 2 months.

The rapid uptick in many states – from being well controlled in early August to the current levels shows not only how quickly COVID can return to high levels – but must surely be correlated with return to school.

As corporations plan for return to office – they will need to think carefully about their potential impact on the COVID – which can of course be mitigated by vaccination policies.

This COVID thing is almost hitting 2 years – and it aint over yet

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Does Peloton’s stock performance mark the end of COVID? Maybe there’s a market in Eastern Europe.

Peloton stock took a massive hit this week, continuing a downward trend over the last 3 months. People want to get back to regular gyms it seems. Notice the current level of $55 versus 52 week high of $171.

Why the good news on covid?

Answer – the next COVID pill – for treating patients shortly after detecting COVID symptoms is looking very promising. See below from today’s Morning Brew:

Pfizer released clinical trial data for its Covid-19 pill, and it was a report card any helicopter parent would be proud of: The treatment reduced hospitalizations and deaths in the most vulnerable patients by 89%, a result so good Pfizer halted clinical trials early.

Antiviral pills like Pfizer’s and Merck’s (which was just granted authorization in the UK) are crucial tools in the fight to turn Covid-19 from a pandemic to an endemic virus. When taken at home within days of discovering Covid symptoms, these pills are much more accessible than current treatments, which require a visit to a medical office.

Why it matters: We know you’ve been hearing this for a while, but this time it really is true…the end is in sight. With booster shots flowing and effective pills on their way to authorization, by January 4—the vaccination mandate deadline for large US employers—“this pandemic may well be over” in the US, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said yesterday.—NF

All data in this analysis is to end October 2021. Per capita we can see cases have fallen significant – but not fatalities

The US still had a very large number of deaths in October – 45,000. Only 5 other months since the inception of the crisis have recorded higher death counts. More to come on that below.

Eastern Europe is still very badly hit

A view in table form – shows the top countries for new cases:

And a similar story for level of current fatalities

Many of these counties have small populations – Latvia for example is 2 million; Lithuania 3m; Georgia 5m. Lets take a look at Russia – population 146m

Russia just recorded its highest level of monthly COVID deaths since the crisis began – 31,000 deaths:

The same story plays out in the Ukraine

United Kingdom

The UK has a sharply rising case rate; but has managed to keep a lid on fatalities. Cases in October were almost exactly those in January 2021 – but look how much lower fatalities are. Jan 2021 noted 33,000 deaths; but in October – just 4,000.

While the UK performance is good – I’ll be the first to state that there is no cause for complacency. The growth of cases in the UK; and across Eastern Europe creates the opportunity for additional COVID variants to take hold.

The UK must now think very seriously about the rollout of vaccine boosters.

Success stories of the month:

Israel managed to bring down cases and fatalities – and had aggressively rolled out vaccine boosters. Deaths in October were less than half those of September.

Costa Rica also did a nice job!

Our neighbour to the north, Canada, is doing a wonderful job. How?

This is in stark contrast to our Northern most states. Alaska had its highest level of COVID deaths ever this month; Maine had its third highest.

The best of the US:

The 3 best states (or equivalent) in the US – are Washington DC; Massachusetts; Connecticut. Basically the bunch below – are doing a very good job keeping cases and fatalities down.

It won’t be the first time for the stock market to declare victory on COVID too soon – and as we have seen – there’s still much work to be done across the US; Eastern Europe; and the UK.

At this point – with new antivirals coming to the market however we finally seem to have the tool kit to address the worst effects of COVID

But we can all do a little more to stop the spread in the meantime

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US Cases may be coming down – but fatalities are still very high

A quick look at this chart reveals that current US average deaths from COVID are over 1600 per day. That’s very high – and in fact numbers not seen since February of this year.

Here’s a similar chart but with real numbers (not per capita). You’ll see back in July – average deaths were about 250 per day.

What’s very odd is that across the rest of the world, most of the epicenter is in Eastern Europe. I can’t think why the US is in the same company as Eastern Europe.

As reported previously, UK is on an upswing of cases (far more than the US) – but due to higher vaccination rates has a much lower level of fatalities per capita.

Hot spots in the USA

Here are the hot spots in the US – expressed as current fatalities per million per day. Pretty much all states are experiencing very high fatality rates. Clearly the numbers spike up in small populations:

The US map doesn’t show a pretty picture (a few good spots in the North East; CA etc)

Texas and Oklahoma have average deaths per day exceeding 150.

Oklahoma is likely a blip – meaning a glitch in collecting data which has suddenly been corrected. It also has a small population of just 4 million. We shall see if the blip theory is correct within a week or so.

As high as Texas is currently, its numbers are trending downwards

Georgia is a pretty large state of 10 million people – its fatality levels are nearing those of January 2021 – but cases have come down quickly.

Tennessee also showing improvement – but still very high

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Eastern Europe and the UK – feeling the Delta pinch

A quick look at the global numbers shows the UK and Eastern Europe feeling the surge of Delta cases.

Latvia is the highest – with over 800 cases per million per day

Not surprisingly this is translating into high current fatality levels in those countries. Romania and Bulgaria are leading the world with over 10 fatalities per day per million.

Romania

Romania is on pace for its deadliest month of covid cases. Already over 4,000 people have died this month. Looks like most of this surge took place from mid-September. The lagged fatality rate (average fatalities now divided by cases 1 month prior) here is 12% – which means that cases are very likely significantly under-reported.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s case growth started late August and in still gaining momentum

So far at least – fatalities seem unlikely to exceed past peaks of December 2020 and April 2021 – but its very easy to see from the fatality curve that this is very definitely a 3rd wave for Bulgaria. The lagged fatality rate for Bulgaira is 5.6%. Still very high and again likely means cases are under reported.

UK

The UK isn’t bringing case numbers down quickly enough – although the most recently fatality data (with 1 month lag from cases) is at 0.34%. (we’ll call this the ‘Lagged Fatality Rate’). Translation – fatalities are relatively well controlled.

From a peak of 33,000 deaths in January – UK now on pace for about one tenth of that in October.

US

The US is bringing cases down – albeit slowly. Fatalities are much higher than the UK – probably driven still by the high incidence of unvaccinated people. The lagged fatality rate in the US is 1% – about 3 times higher than the UK.

Currrently it looks like US fatality numbers should be less in October than in September – but still around 40,000.

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The Northern Surge

This picture shows it all. The surge of cases that gripped the sourth recently is on a northern expansion. Once again, North Dakota is recording high levels of COVID – but this time – Montana also. I recently reported on Alaska.

Fortunately the top 14 states (from Alaska to Michigan) have a population of just 51 million people or about 16% of the US population.

That means that the improved data in the southern states is able to pull down the US average stats – which continue to improve – but are still not where they need to be.

But across the country, fatality rates are much too high:

The US had over 50,000 deaths in September 2021 – only 3 other months have exceeded that figure. Recall the situation in April 2020 – at the begining of the covid pandemic when the US recorded 56,000 deaths. We were almost at the exact same number of deaths last month!

League tables:

In this scale, anything greater than 2 is bad. Texas in position 10 – is very bad – given its large population – but the numbers for the top 10 states are very bad. Likely driven by cases exceeding hospital capacity.

The table below is in actual numbers (not per capita). 250 people are currently dying per day in Texas; 51 in my home state of TN.

Arkansas population 3 million

Alaska is still struggling – but with a very small population of 700,000 – about the same as the county I live in (Davidson County)

Here you see the Montana charts (population 1 million)

North Dakota – population 760,000

Tennessee (population 7 million) – Example of a southern state getting better. But still a long way to go.

Texas (population 28 million) is also getting better for new cases; but fatalities are far too high

New York has contained Delta – but still a little higher than desirable.

Hawaii is in marked contrast to Alaska:

Connecticut seems to be getting it about right – but the data is lumpy – so watch this space. Not sure what drive the sudden spike at the end of September – likely some kind of adjustment in the numbers.

California is doing well – especially for a state of 40 million people

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The US may have crested this COVID wave, but still has a very long way to go

Things may be looking up for now. Seems that the US current levels of new cases at 358 per million per day are about 63% of the recent peak of 569 per million per day earlier this month.

Its too early to call success on fatalities however. Below is the same chart – but with whole numbers – rather than per million figures. Close to an average of 2,000 deaths per day – having been as low as 195 on 8th July.

Case numbers are falling significantly in Florida, Georgia, Texas – take a look at the right hand side of this table showing the change in the average daily number of cases week over week.

Tennessee looks to have broken the curve… from country number 1 in late August. However over 600 cases per million per day is no cause for celebration. Fatalities are way too high.

Applying that to the rest of the US, generally more than 300 new cases per million per day is still very bad:

Here’s the same data visually. Tennessee still wants to feature in the league tables

Most states are struggling with very high fatality rates right now. As an example TN has just 6% ICU capacity – just 127 available beds for a population of 7 million:

TN has recorded over 1,500 deaths from COVID this month alone, the 4th highest in this states pandemic history:

September to date is the 3rd deadliest month in our COVID record:

Close to 50,000 deaths. US deaths from this pandemic at over 680,000 have now eclipsed that of the 1918 flu pandemic (known as Spanish Flu) – albeit the 1918 population was obviously a lot smaller.

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Peru – the worst impacted country in the world for COVID – shows sustained improvement

Some good news for Peru

Peru leads the world in reported deaths per capita. As you can see from the table below – almost 2x the number of the second country in the table. Thats a total of almost 200,000 deaths on a population of 32 million people

Improving trend

Current fatalities are now just 1.2 per million per day. The best result in many months.

A similar story for Brazil

Improvement – but 3 fatalities per million per day is still too high

The Driver: Vaccinations

The chart below shows steady progress in a rollout of vaccinations commencing around May 2021. Levels are still relatively low: as of Sept 4th 26% of the population are fully vaccinated. Seems like the case curve started to fall sustainably in June – which fits the profile of the vaccination curve with 1 month lag – as we would expect.

Is herd immunity a driver? Unlikely. Almost 2m people have been diagnosed and presumed recovered from COVID – which is 6% of the population. Assume that’s 2 to 5x underreported – that still shows this population is no way near the level of exposure to generate herd immunity.

Well done Peru in clearly targetting potential vulnerable populations with your vaccine rollout.

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TN – leads the country and the world

I attended a great talk last night by a top health official – Dr David Aronoff. He showed a chart showing that if Tennessee were a country it would be the world leader in new COVID cases. He’s 100% right.

Here’s the global league table data – notice Israel is #1 at 971 new cases per million per day

And here’s the same data by state. Notice TN, AL, and SC all eclipse Israel. So that’s basically 1,2, and 3 for US states leading the world in new COVID cases.

Where would you choose to live? Its late 2001 all over again.

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TN – Governor Lee – from Executive Order to number 1 for new COVID cases in 16 days

Gotta hand it to the Governor – he knows how to get things done. From executive order #84 allowing parents to circumvent mask rules of schools to # 1 in the country for new cases per capita took just 16 days. Seriously – where is the accountability. Make your voice heard.

Tennessee is now the #1 state for new cases of COVID – expressed per capita. I could not be more disappointed. Just for comparison – that’s 5x higher than Vermont.

With growth like that, its no wonder that fatalities are sharply rising

153,000 new covid cases in August; 740 deaths

4x as many people died in August as July.

I called it at the time. Governor Lee you have a blatant disregard for the pandemic risks and the data. We are in unchartered territory for a pandemic precisely because you – and leaders like you – evidently have no clue what you are doing.

Do you think this pandemic respects your political philosphy? Think again. Your job is to protect people in a pandemic, lead by example, and manage hospital capacity. Epic FAIL; FAIl; FAIL

Its not too late to be the leader that people need to address this pandemic

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Davidson County, TN hits 1,000 COVID deaths. Stop acting like its over – what action are you taking?

Still think this is over? Think again. Davidson County TN just crossed 1,000 deaths from COVID; from a population of 695,000 people. That means that 0.14% of people have died from COVID.

Souce for this is the NY Times Data – which shows recent data. Below is a pretty cool graphic – which basically shows that cases now in August 2021 are approaching the peak levels of December 2020.

Hospitalizations are on the rise:

Also from the NY Times

Deaths are sharply rising

Deaths in August are 4x those of July and 20x those of June

Per the CDC we are at very high risk levels:

Davidson County is at an extremely high risk level for unvaccinated people because there was an average of 59 daily cases per 100,000 people reported in the past two weeks and the test positivity was over 10 percent. 

For more of the excellent NY Times reporting on COVID click here.

For the Davidson County Dashboard click here. This shows 981 deaths, but the data is on a 5 day lag and updated only 2x per week. This site also shows test positivity rate of 14%.

Its time to stop acting like its over – and get back to the basics

Thankfully some businesses are taking some proactive steps… here’s an example from a business in Nashville

Hi Parents,
Unfortunately we have found ourselves in a position to re-evaluate our Covid policy once again.

After much thought, parent feedback and research into how the delta variant is affecting children we think the safest action is to reinstate our mask policy for the time being.

We will be requiring our staff to be vaccinated as well as wearing masks in order to limit any kind of spread. We ask our parents to also wear masks if inside.

The safety of our kids is important and we want to make sure we are taking every step to provide a safe environment for them.

A local martial arts business

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Global Covid Round up – Peru and Indonesia show improvment; Israel makes the case for boosters; US at almost 1000 deaths per day

Average Deaths per Day

Current average daily deaths

Fatalities since inception on a per capita basis. Peru is #1 – we’ll take a look at that later.

Current case levels: Israel is currently 2x that of the US – we’ll look into that below.

Indonesia shows improvement

A few weeks ago – Indonesia was recording the current highest levels of daily deaths in the world; now it is showing significant improvement. Average deaths are still about 1280 per day – currently the highest of any country – but down from 1800 per day in late July.

The rise of Delta was swift in Indonesia. Deaths increased from an average of 5000 to 6000 per month to 35,000 in July. So far in August 34,000 deaths have been recorded – and this will likely be the deadliest month on record for the country.

US Deaths are Rising again

Very high level of fatalities per million; and over 17,000 deaths in August (compared to 8,000 in July)

Israel – sharply up

Its been widely reported that Israel is rolling out booster shots to its 9m people. With the curve like that below – that’s very easy to understand. Good luck with getting that booster out quickly. Time is of the essence.

Fatalities so far in August are 10x higher than in July – and only 8 deaths in the month of June.

UK, Italy, France – cases are up – but fatalities still largely under control

Philippines – sharply rising fatalities

Brazil showing sustained improvement – but fatalities still far too high

No denying the improvement here.

Peru shows continued improvement

Peru is the world #1 for per capita fatalities since inception. On a population of just 32m, it has recorded almost 200,000 covid deaths. Thats 0.6% of their entire population – just on COVID. Based on the current numbers, is this country demonstrating an example of herd immunity?

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Approve the vaccine for our kids. Delta is omnipresent, leadership is not only lacking, its counterproductive. Louisiana spikes for the 4th time and hits unprecedented levels of cases.

As some of you may know, in the early days of COVID monitoring, I posted on the worst counties in America. This measures how widespread COVID is impacting counties across America. i.e. not just looking at one or two large cities – but considering if the impact is more widely felt.

Criteria for the list is those counties with more than 100,000 population – and with new cases greater than 200 per million per day. In September 2020 we had managed to get the list down to 75; by Nov 2020 it was around 400; now in August 2021 we are back to 465.

Digest that for a moment. 465 large counties across America have elevated rates of covid transmission. Texas for example has 39 counties meeting the criteria above; Florida 36; California 34. (Tennessee has 13)

Now – some may argue that many are vaccinated; we are in a new wave where more infections doesn’t necessarily mean as many fatalities in the past. Well lets look at those counties with the highest current fatality rates:

Counties with highest current fatality rates:

StateCounty New Cases per million  New Fatalities per million County Pop
LouisianaTangipahoa115029134,758
TexasNueces131420362,294
LouisianaLivingston107319140,789
MississippiHinds76317231,840
AlabamaMobile105015413,210
LouisianaRapides150413129,648
LouisianaEast Baton Rouge87013440,059
North CarolinaRobeson85713130,625
TexasPotter59613117,415
LouisianaAscension111412126,604
LouisianaCalcasieu98312203,436
OregonDouglas155012110,980
South CarolinaPickens96212126,884
TexasRandall60312137,713
AlabamaHouston73711105,882
LouisianaSt. Tammany125211260,419
MississippiJackson149711143,617
MissouriGreene38211293,086
AlabamaCalhoun64310113,605
ArkansasSebastian79810127,827
LouisianaTerrebonne196410110,461
LouisianaOuachita129210153,279
LouisianaJefferson99410432,493
LouisianaCaddo90310240,204
MississippiRankin137810155,271
North CarolinaGaston61510224,529
North CarolinaMoore61510100,880
South CarolinaLexington95710298,750
28 counties with the highest current fatality rates

Here’s a geographic map by state:

Mississippi and Louisiana are literally off the charts. Current per capital fatality rates in those states are almost 10x that of many other states.

Here’s the data in table form.

Louisiana – how not to handle COVID – worse than ever

The level of cases in Louisina is at unprecedented levels. Only in the very first wave (April 2020) did the fatality rate peak (13.9 deaths per million per day) – but current levels are very close to exceeding that level (12.2).

Here’s an easier to see monthly trend:

Monthly deaths peaked in April 2020 – at 1,665 – and came close to that level again in January 2021 (1,371). So far in August we are at ~900 – and likely to exceed 1200 by the end of the month.

If there was any reason not to have faith that we as a society will do whatever is necessary to protect our own self interest then Louisiana is the case in point.

As an example, East Baton Rouge has had 65 deaths so far this month in a population of 440,000. For more on Baton Rouge click here. https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/coronavirus/article_ae0ba3d6-0204-11ec-a518-57118752dde3.html

Little wonder the overall US fatality rate is rising

So far this month almost 13,000 people have died from COVID; that’s sharply up from 8,400 recorded last month. Average deaths are now 800 per day.

Its no wonder that the US is preparing to encourage booster shots. The current accelerating rate of infections and increased transmissibility of Delta – mean that case numbers are almost certain to increase significantly in the short term. Faced with news that the vaccine potency reduces over time; stepping forward with a wave of boosters – especially for the vulnerable populations is especially important.

If the US follows the same path as last year (through the traditional holiday period); its very likely COVID will still be around in Jan 2022.

Given the experience of Louisiana – is it even wise to hope for the best….far better to plan for the worse – and to assume we’re living with this thing next year. Under that assumption – its critical to approve the release of vaccine for our children.

If Governors of Texas and Tennessee can issue decrees banning the use of face masks in schools; on the grounds that parents have their own kids best interests at heart; then provide us parents with the tools to protect our children. At this point, many states (those in RED on the charts above) have proven they have lacked the ability to manage this crisis.

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Pediatric COVID-19 in Tennessee

From CNN this morning:

Alabama is now seeing the highest number of Covid-19 cases among children than at any other time during the pandemic, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said Friday.

From August 1-18, 2020, the state saw 1,831 cases of Covid-19 in children between the ages of 5 and 17. But for that same period this year, the state saw 8,462 cases in that age range.

According to Harris, there were 50 pediatric patients hospitalized as of August 19, 9 of whom are on ventilators.

Dr. Sara Cross, a member of the Covid-19 task force for Tennessee’s governor and an infectious disease specialist at the University of Tennessee, said bans on mask mandates would have “catastrophic consequences” for those in classrooms.

“When one child doesn’t wear a mask, it doesn’t only affect that child. It affects the entire classroom. It affects teachers. We just had a teacher in the Memphis area, a 31-year-old woman, die of Covid in the past few days from acquiring it in the classroom,” Cross told CNN’s Ana Cabrera on Thursday.

“We can’t handle what we’re seeing. We are estimating that the number of cases in Tennessee will increase six-fold by the end of September if we don’t take measures to mitigate the spread,” Cross said.

“This is not an adult disease anymore,” Cross said, saying the pediatric hospital in downtown Memphis “currently has at least 9 children in the ICU from Covid-19.”

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Don’t Disgard the Data – Davidson County TN. Cases are sharply rising before school resumes

Sharply rising case count here in Davidson County, TN:

Daily cases now are 5x the level of early July.

Which is a similar case for TN.

And – clearly the US as a whole:

US is now almost 10x higher than the levels in early July.

Proactive businesses are masking up

I’m encouraged by those businesses that are voluntarily masking up. Davidson County has been slow to update guidance to businesses.

Hospital Capacity

A lot of what we expect from government officials speaks to capacity management. When hospitals are close to capacity – we expect more proactive measures to ensure health services operate as expected. That does not seem to be the case. See attached:

https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/health/2021/08/13/nashville-hospitals-covid-19-no-beds/8124120002/

Don’t Deny the Data

Delta is a new strain – so treat it with the appropriate caution – especially for those of us with children who are too young to be vaccinated.

The current return to school situation easily looks like a repeat of 2020 – and we can all recall the spike in cases & fatalities over Thanksgiving to New Year. While many of the vulnerable have received vaccines , as current hospital capacity concerns show, there’s plenty of opportunity for this variant to disrupt.

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Louisiana, Florida; Arkansas and Missouri have worryingly high fatality rates

Its almost back to the 2020 year end peak for these states. Louisiana, Florida, and Mississippi; South Carolina and Oregon have all set record numbers for new COVID cases this month!

All numbers expressed per capita for comparison purposes.

Louisiana has eclipsed this year’s peak in average daily cases. Not surprisingly fatalities are sharply rising

Florida has a 4x larger population than Louisiana – which likely means pressure on hospital capacity once again. Over 20,000 new cases per day are being recorded – a new COVID peak for the state; and unfortunately an average of 141 deaths per day.

Arkansas – almost same level of per capita fatalities as Florida.

Missouri – appears to be slowing the rate of new cases; but fatalities still at a very high level

By comparison – some states that seem to be holding it together

Tennessee – cause for concern:

Adding this state, as its my home state:

Davidson county also sharply rising

Return to school starts soon.

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Indonesia leads the world in current COVID deaths: concerns about new variants

Indonesia (population 265m) is currently leading average daily deaths from COVID – at approximately 1700 deaths per day. As can be seen from the charts, both cases and fatalies have sharply risen in July.

Here are the top countries in table format:

Here’s look at the global hot spots for new cases – Spain is also very high

All of these countries have very high per capita death rates

Virus mutations

One of the facts that I’m reminded of is that viruses mutate especially well in crowded conditions. It seems no suprise therefore that the Delta variant first emerged in India. There are recent reports that the COVID deaths in India are under-reported – with various analysis measuring excess deaths reporting potentially 4m deaths from COVID. If those numbers are true – its easy to see how the virus was able to transform into its current, more transmissible, form.

Now, some concerns are focused on whether new variants may emerge in Indonesia. See the story below:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-08-08/could-indonesias-outbreak-give-rise-to-a-new-variant-covid19/100343554

COVID has been the complacency virus. Each time we relax our measures, it springs up. The US is now firmly in an additional wave. Fortunately most of our very vulnerable segments of society have had adequate opportunity for vaccination; however children under 12 are still not eligble. Its truly hard to read about populations within the US with very low vaccination rates. That just increases the risk that a more lethal variant could do significantly more damage to those people currently unvaccinated in the future.

The global picture is proving that new variants are being created and can be more virulent. A complacent approach to preventation is going to increase our short and medium term pain. We need to step up the vaccination drive.

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Delta spreads to more states; Nevada has highest fatality rate but overall US fatalities remain low and the market is rising

Over 500 cases per million per day in Louisiana

Louisiana hasn’t missed out on any spike in COVID.

The recent trend

In absolute numbers Florida is recording the most new covid cases:

Nevada at 2.8 fatalities per million per day – leading the country

The net effect of this is pulling up the US average for cases. US average for fatalities remains good:

Average daily cases are now about 40,000 per day; average deaths about 250

Here’s the fatality daily average per capita for the US

Notice a number of states with more than 2 deaths per day per million

The UK may be leading the path the US follows

Louisiana is looking a lot like the UK – which recently announced Freedom Day – albeit with large growth in Delta. Fatalities still very low and lets hope they stay that way. One way or another the UK is putting vaccine efficacy to test.

Cases sharply rising – but fatalities very low. A sign of vaccine success?

The markets like the low fatality rate

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Delta Rising: Louisiana and Nevada added to the list. A pandemic of the unvaccinated.

Quote: “This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

The Delta variant is spreading quickly among unvaccinated people in the US. Cases are up 70%, hospitalizations have increased 36%, and deaths are up 26% from the prior week, Walensky said. 97% of people hospitalized due to Covid-19 are unvaccinated.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky
Not the right trajectory

Cases and fatalities are on the rise in Louisiana; Arkansas; Nevada; Missouri; Alabama; Kentucky

The rate of new cases in Arkansas is more than 3x the national average – and more than 10x greater than the states with the lowest rate

76 large counties (over 100,000 people) have high rates of new COVID cases

– here’s the list: Notice the majority Southern concentration – which aligns with low vaccination rates. Greene, Missouri is the highest.

StateCounty New Cases per million 
AlabamaBaldwin443
AlabamaMobile431
AlabamaHouston302
AlabamaEtowah215
AlabamaShelby202
AlaskaAnchorage253
ArizonaMohave283
ArizonaYavapai251
ArkansasFaulkner524
ArkansasPulaski485
ArkansasSaline474
ArkansasCraighead372
ArkansasBenton319
ArkansasWashington288
ArkansasSebastian258
FloridaDuval662
FloridaBay469
FloridaClay465
FloridaSt. Johns389
FloridaOsceola381
FloridaOrange375
FloridaMiami-Dade366
FloridaVolusia349
FloridaBrevard341
FloridaSeminole333
FloridaMartin323
FloridaFlagler295
FloridaHillsborough287
FloridaPolk284
FloridaLake283
FloridaBroward280
FloridaSt. Lucie277
FloridaMarion254
FloridaCollier242
FloridaPalm Beach237
FloridaManatee231
FloridaPasco226
FloridaHernando217
FloridaLeon204
GeorgiaHenry205
KansasWyandotte212
LouisianaTangipahoa564
LouisianaSt. Tammany526
LouisianaLivingston469
LouisianaAscension434
LouisianaTerrebonne362
LouisianaEast Baton Rouge325
LouisianaLafayette303
LouisianaJefferson287
LouisianaOrleans282
LouisianaBossier276
LouisianaRapides270
LouisianaOuachita241
LouisianaCaddo233
MississippiHinds466
MississippiRankin296
MississippiHarrison293
MissouriGreene812
MissouriBoone460
MissouriJasper453
MissouriCass293
MissouriSt. Louis216
NevadaClark320
New YorkNew York City355
North CarolinaRobeson222
North CarolinaCumberland209
TexasBell314
TexasGrayson272
TexasComal237
TexasGalveston228
TexasTarrant219
TexasWebb217
TexasBrazoria211
UtahUtah229
UtahWeber200
WashingtonBenton250

What a difference 1 month makes – the case growth in Greene County, Missouri

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Countries with sharply rising covid cases

As of July 17th 2021

UK Cases are Sharply Up – but fatalities are not as bad due to vaccination of the vulnerable
Russia’s cases and fatalities sharply rising
Similar story to the UK; sharply rising cases but not fatalities

Countries with very high levels (above objectively acceptable levels)

Columbia was almost in control in March – but fatality levels are very bad. While cases are reducing now… they are still very high.
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COVID has more sequels than the Fast & Furious Franchise

Its really hard to look at data that shows that once again the COVID virus is finding ways to continue to spread. I already reported on Arkansas and Missouri not being with the program last week – and this week we can add Florida, Nevada and Utah to the list.

Cases are up again

We can start to see the impact of these states on the right hand side of the graph below

Lets take a look at that part of the curve in whole numbers:

From a low of 10,000 cases per day in early July – cases have now rapidly accelerated to more than double that – erasing the progress made in the month of June.

Fortunately the fatalities numbers continue to fall in the US… but note there were still 10,000 deaths from COVID in the month of June.

What’s happening the in the rest of the world: UK

This shows the same period as the US zoom in. Here we see an exponential rise in the number of cases. From a low of 1500 cases per day in mid may – the UK now has an average 33,000 cases per day.

Spain shows a similar spike

Global League Table shows some significantly high levels of COVID

Brazil

Brazil has recorded 534,000 deaths versus the US 602,000. At the current daily rate of 1295 per day (versus US of 256) – this means Brazil could overtake the US for most number of deaths from COVID by end September. June deaths in Brazil were still the 4th highest on record for that country.

Brazil has never really gotten control of COVID

The Brazil Daily trend shows no sustained downward progress in average fatalities… albeit slow – and still to high:

Contrast that with the US monthly data:

Staying in South America;

Columbia recorded its highest monthly total of deaths from COVID in June. Current fatalities are 11.3 per million day.

The Spanish Curve also shows more plot twists that a hollywood blockbuster

India: Significant progress – from 9.3 million cases in May to 2.3 million cases in June

CUBA is also facing a record high number of cases and fatalities:

No surprise therefore to watch the news reports this week of the civil unrest in that country

Conclusion

It’s not over yet. Just as F9 was the first blockbuster of the proclaimed ‘post covid’ era in the US, we know we can expect an F10 and the virus isn’t taking any time off.

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600,000 US deaths

The New York Times is reporting 600,000 US deaths this week, although the WHO stats are about 5,000 less. Nevertheless the WSJ did the qualitative analysis that I had downloaded the data for. Here it is

“Mercifully, the pace of deaths in the U.S. has slowed, which wasn’t the case for most of the pandemic. The country logged its first 100,000 deaths in May 2020, and the pace kept accelerating. It took close to four months for the nation to log another 100,000 deaths, about three months for the next, and just five weeks for the next. The most recent 100,000 deaths came more slowly, over about four months, thanks, experts say, to the protection offered by the vaccines.”

As my loyal readers would expect, I’ll follow with my own charts to visualize this data! Gotta love the data visualization first thing Sunday morning!

It took 72 days (after the 100th death – a benchmark I use for global covid tracking purposes) to reach the 100,000 deaths milestone – that occurred on May 28th.

Lockdowns slowed the pace, but our complaceny kicked in, and as we recall cases rose significantly in the summer of 2020. See the chart below – over 1.9m cases in July 2020 alone. The next milesone of 200,000 deaths was reached on September 19th.

By the time of the next milesone of 300,000 deaths on Dec 13th, momentum was very high. Travel was still very high over the thanksgiving period acting as a catalyst for COVID. Over 4m new cases recorded in November and 6 million in December.

The next 100,000 deaths was recorded on Jan 17th 2021 and came by at an alarmingly quick rate – just 35 days after the prior one. Momentum carried forward (the legacy from thansgiving and Christmas holidays) and the next 100,000 powered through in just 36 days on Feb 22nd.

Really turning the corner this time

Thank goodness for the vaccine rollout and renewed vigor on mask mandates. Post inauguration new US covid cases fell to 2.5m in February – about 40% of the prior month.

By the end of April 44% of US adults had received at least one COVID shot. As of June 19th that figure is 53%.

The final 100,000 deaths

According to the WHO we haven’t quite yet reached the 600,000th death mark. We are about 595,000 deaths. By my calculations the WHO will record that mark around July 7th. That will be 130 days since the prior milesone.

Is it too optimistic to say that’s the final milesone? I don’t think so… and I hope not.

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Global Covid round up 6-11-21

A quick look at the global covid status hows that India has successfully brought its COVID numbers down; but South America remains the worst hit continent – using official WHO numbers. Mongolia is also trending higher – with currently 300 cases per million per day (but based off a low overall population of approximately 4m).

India bends the curve
Columbia struggles – going from bad to worse
Argentina also struggles….with rising cases and fatalities
UK cases are trending up based on the Delta variant – but no increase in fatalities

US News

Across the US – the vaccination impact is showing clearly. All states are at very low levels for new covid cases.

New case data is looking good

Fatalities have still not fully come down in Michigan; West Virginia or Georgia– but should do so very soon based on the current case data

Michigan cases are improving rapidly

Perhaps the best way to show the solid improvement across the whole US – is a stat I was tracking since early COVID which is the ‘worst counties’ in America list. Today there are only 4 counties on the list. In late December 2020 there were 572

The critiera is population greater than 100,000 and new cases per million greater than 200. Here are the 4 counties.

StateCounty New Cases per million  New Fatalities per million County Pop
ColoradoMesa3636154,210
MissouriGreene2221293,086
TexasWebb12942276,652
TexasBell8652362,924

With numbers this low across the US, travel season is back! Get out there and visit a National Park…. we did just recently and they have never appeared to be more popular

One of the National Parks… can you guess where?

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Water shortages – climate change ?

Some good work from Morning Brew her is collating different stories to work on a theme. Prognosis is not good for water supply out west.

I had heard before that production of Almonds is notoriously water intensive. Much as I like almond milk and almonds – if it is inefficient re water usage – then let’s stop growing almonds in CA.

Morning Brew content follows:

The latest shortage hitting the American West? Water. And while Chick-fil-A sauce and semiconductors are important for a functioning economy, this year’s historic drought in the West could affect—and we do mean this—literally everything.

The state of play: California Gov. Gavin Newsom has put 41 counties under a state of emergency in an attempt to drastically limit water use. Some scientists say the region is facing the worst drought in centuries. 

Who’s getting hit the hardest?

Anyone who eats food. The water levels of 1,500+ reservoirs in California are 50% lower than normal at this time of year, per Jay Lund, co-director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC-Davis. This means huge cuts to the water that farmers in the state use to produce over 25% of the country’s food supply. 

  • Your morning breakfast of Blue Diamond almond milk and habanero BBQ almonds could be impacted. California accounts for 80% of the US’ almond supply, but because of shrinking water allocations, some farmers are simply bulldozing those notoriously thirsty almond trees.

Anyone who uses electricity. Officials are predicting the water level of Lake Oroville, the Beyoncé of California lakes, to hit a record low in August. If that happens, they would need to shut down a major hydroelectric power plant, putting extra strain on the electrical grid during the hottest part of the summer.

Anyone who is a fish. In April, California officials announced they’d be driving 146 truckloads of 15+ million young salmon to the Pacific Ocean because the fish wouldn’t be able to swim in the dangerously shallow, warm waterways connecting the state’s Central Valley to the ocean.

Anyone who dislikes wildfires. Five of the six largest wildfires in modern California history happened during the 2020 wildfire season, killing 30+ people. Experts say the current conditions are much worse.

Bottom line: This drought could have devastating consequences for the state’s agriculture, wildlife preservation, and tourism industries. #BoatSummer in California is not looking good.

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Global Covid Roundup

In today’s blog we take a quick look at the global picture for COVID. Once again South America has the highest rate per capita of new cases. One key point to note; many of the countries worst hit now are the poorest in the world. As you read this – spare a thought for those countries – and lets all try to do something to encourage international aid to support them.

Global Covid Map – South America is the focus

Lets look at this in table form. Some of the countries on the list have very small populations (Maldives; Bahrain; Costa Rica) – but we can see here Uruguay; Argentina very high on the list

Average daily fatalities (7 day average)

Argentina

Argentina never really bent the curve – as is shown in the chart below. Fatalities per million per day are at an alarming level – on an increasing case load:

To make the point more emphatically – here’s the 1 year trend

Per capita cases and fatalities

Uruguay

Uruguay’s a different story. Seemingly relatively untouched by COVID in 2020 – the current 2021 wave is far more persistent and troubling. Of note however, the population is 4 million. This should be a small enough population to quickly vaccinate, if international assistance can be provided (that’s half the population of Israel).

Brazil

Brazil – is on the same upward trend as Argentina – as we see below – althought interesingly the fatality curve is reducing significantly. That said – in real numbers (not per capita) Brazil is averaging almost 2,000 deaths per day.

India

In line with my intro to this article – did you know India (population 1.4bn) has per capita income of $2,000 per person (as compared to US = $60k). Its impressive that India seems to have bent the curve with that financial constraint.

Although cases for the month of May (to 5-21-21) are 7.3 million and fatalities are 83,000. That’s still an average of over 4,000 deaths per day.

Nepal

I learned something new today(!). Nepal is a country of 28 million people. Perhaps by watching so many Expedition Everest shows I’d assumed a much smaller population.

Nepal’s proximity to India is causing an explosion of cases there. Did you know GDP per capital is just $900 per year. Lets all spare a thought for Nepal – and pray that the country gets the aid it needs to protect its people.

What’s going well

Quite a lot – check out some charts of the best performing countries; including the US and UK – where largescale vaccine rollout is unquestioningly delivering these benefits

No wonder CDC lifted the mask mandate – but 1.8 fatalities per million per day is still 600 deaths per day
The US had 98,000 deaths in January alone – but as of May 21st – just 13,000! That is great progress
UK is even further along – with only 22 new cases per million per day and close to zero fatalities!

UK monthly deaths peaked at 33,000 in January – and thus far in May are 200. That’s another amazing record of success.

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Davidson County, TN doing well

Above is a quick dashboard I’ve been tracking. The Covid numbers in Davidson county have been steadily dropping – in line with vaccine rollout.

The 2nd chart are 7 day average stats per million. We can see a short spike in fatalities – but at this point the numbers are low – so 1 or 2 deaths can drive up the curve – so expect some volatility in the fatality line of the curve.

A similarly good story is in TN

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India deaths likely 2 to 5x higher than reported

www.nytimes.com/2021/04/24/world/asia/india-coronavirus-deaths.html

It’s a complete massacre of data,” said Bhramar Mukherjee, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan who has been following India closely. “From all the modeling we’ve done, we believe the true number of deaths is two to five times what is being reported.”

At the same time, India’s Covid vaccine campaign is struggling: Less than 10 percent of Indians have gotten even one dose, despite India being the world’s leading vaccine manufacturer. India’s dire needs are already having ripple effects across the world, especially for poorer countries. It had planned to ship out millions of doses; now, given the country’s stark vaccination shortfall, exports have essentially been shut down, leaving other nations with far fewer doses than they had expected.

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Uruguay leads the world in new cases per capita; Brazil overtakes US in total deaths per capita

Uruguay now leads the world in new cases per capita (almost 1000 per million per day average) – followed by Turkey and Sweden.

With respect to current rates of fatalities eastern Europe is leading the league tables – but Uruguay is also very high (position #6).

Brazil now has a higher total level of deaths per capita than the US. Currently Brazil leads the world in toital average deaths per day at around 3,100 – thats 15 deaths per million per day. The US (larger population) has total of around 760 deaths per day – that’s 2.3 deaths per million per day.

Total COVID deaths since inception are listed below. At the current difference between US and Brazil, Brazil will have the worlds leading level of total deaths within 3 months.

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Europe leads new case surge; US plateaus; UK sets the standard

From the picture below we can see a large concentration of cases across many countries in Europe.

France, Turkey, Poland and Sweden all have over 500 cases per million per day.

At the other end of the spectrum Poland and UK have the lowest levels of new COVID cases

Within South America, Argentina and Brazil both have around 300 cases per million per day

France:

Ignoring April monthly data (this is as of April 9th)- we can see that cases in March were almost as bad as those in November. Fortunately we can also see that monthly deaths are slowly declining…but since deaths lag cases, lower deaths in March (~9,000) may be the result of lower cases in January and February.

Almost 3x higher daily cases than in February

UK – vaccine experience shows success

Daily cases and fatalities continue to fall
Approximately 4,000 deaths in March – compared with 33,000 in January

The number of UK covid deaths has sharply fallen – from 33,000 in January to 4,000 in March. That’s astounding!

US – starting to plateau – not yet at target

US has made great progress since January 1st. But notice that the cases, and fatality rate have levelled off at still too high a level. We are still looking at an average of 63,000 cases per day and 1000 deaths.

Where is the growth in the US?

Pretty much the same as last week. Michigan continues to lead the recent explosion in new cases

Michigan: almost at the level of Thanksgiving

Michigan recorded 100,000 new covid cases in March – almost 3x the level of February. Deaths were still substantially lower at around 600 for March, compared with 3,400 for December. Perhaps vaccinations are protecting the most vulnerable. The state has administered 5.2m doses of vaccine in a population of about 10m people.

Brazil has worst month of the crisis so far

With the concerns growing about new variants, Brazil recorded its worst month of the crisis. Over 2m cases were recorded in March and over 60,000 deaths. That’s more than double the prior month level of deaths.

The fatality rate has sharply increased – from about 2 fatalities per million per day in early November 2020 to 13 fatalities per million per day currently. Deaths are averaging 2,700 per day. Currently the highest level of any country.

At these trends, Brazil could well exceed the US level of fatalities per capita soon. If those trends are sustained over the next 4 months; Brazil could record the highest number of COVID deaths (US currently has 550,000 deaths versus Brazil of 340,000).

Effectively distributing the vaccine quickly to Brazil citizens is critical. Currently about 9% of the population have received 1 or more doses (just 3% are fully vaccinated). For the US we have 34% of the population with at least one dose and 20% fully vaccinated.

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Europe is on a 3rd COVID wave; vaccination rollout is the key to success

Check out the experience of France as reflected in the chart below. Cases now are approximately 3x higher than the level in January.

If we look at the league table for global new cases, many European countries occupy the top spots in the league tables. A common factor in these countries; low rates of vaccination. Hungary has about 6% of its population fully vaccinated against covid. France has about 3.8% of its population fully vaccinated.

UK

The UK has taken a different approach to vaccination. Over 29 million people have received at least one shot. 87% of those 50 years old and over have received at least one shot. As we can see below, this approach is paying off.

These two charts really illustrate the importance and impact of vaccination. France had its year end spike peak sooner than the UK – but the UK has delivered sustained reduction in cases and deaths. Notice the current per capita fatality rate in the UK is 1/5th that of France.

US

The US appears much better than Europe but not quite as successful as the UK. Current fatality rate is about 3x higher than the UK – but, most importantly has fallen very significantly since the begining of the year. 14% of the US has been fully vaccinated.

Brazil

Brazil has reached new highs for covid infections and fatalities. Fatalities are sharply rising. This is a population of over 200 million people. As of early March only 2% of the population had been vaccinated.

Putting this in raw numbers, Brazil has an average of 77,000 new cases per day, and 2300 deaths per day.

Israel

While Israel has a population of only 9m people, this has become a good case study for vaccine rollout. The country began rollout of vaccines on December 19th 2020. To date, over 50% of the population has been fully vaccinated, and for those aged 70-79, 91% have been fully vaccinated. This proactive approach shows in a much lower rate of COVID.

This chart also shows the clear linkage between cases and fatalities. The month of March has the lowest number of total cases since September (with the exception of November).

Conclusion

The race is on to vaccinate. The data could not be clearer. Higher vaccination rates (particularly of vulnerable segments of society) are having a material impact on rates of new infections and deaths.

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Did Texas Declare Victory Too Soon? Read on

This week the Texas Governor announced the lifting of all COVID restrictions from Wednesday March 10th. We have repeatedly seen that ‘early liftings’ by states that have later seen an upsurge in cases. However, this is the first lifting of this scale where we have broad availability of multiple vaccines.

So lets start by examinging the pro’s of the governors case. The governor states that cases are rapidly falling; fatalities are falling and most importantly, the vaccine has been rolled out to well over 4 million Texans.

  • 4.2 million people have received at least one dose (14% of the population)
  • of these 2.3m have received 2 doses (full vaccinated) – equivalent to 8% of the total population
  • An average of about 800,000 vaccination doses administered each week
  • New cases are 255 per million per day, down from about 800 in Jan 2021
  • Fatalities are 8 per million per day – down from about 11 at the most recent peak in Jan 2021
  • Hospital capacity is at likely around 70% (my calculations)
  • About 2.4m have tested positive and recovered from COVID

Event though the reductions have been dramatic – current levels are still high

February was still the 4th highest month for cases, and the 2nd highest month for deaths

Current cases levels are higher than August 2020

Many counties still have elevated fatality rates

Consider this list of large counties, all with new cases per million over 200 and population more than 100,000. The average daily fatality rate in most of these counties is still far too high.

Is the Governor just thinking about capacity?

From the begining of COVID, there has been the debate about whether it is the role of leaders to simply manage hospital capacity – with the objective that all those who need medical attention can get it. If that’s the case, then the current data supports that there is some excess capacity in the hospitals.

With a population of 28 million people, and 4 million having received 1 or more dose of vaccine – has the state adequately targetted its high risk population? Quite possibly.

Vaccination stats

Link here for the official page:

Before we get into the State data – lets compare with the rest of the nation. Texas is one of the lagging states for vaccine adminstration. It has administered 32,000 doses per 100,000 population, but others – such as New Mexico have administered 43,000 doses (that’s 34% more than Texas).

People aged 85 or over make up about 1.5% of the population – so approximately 400,000 people. Clearly we would acknowledge this group is high risk. From this data we can see over 400,000 in the 80+ demographic have been vaccinated.

We can conclude that a sizeable portion of the elderly population have been vaccinated

Distibution of vaccine by race/ ethnicity

We know the virus disproportionately impacted minority populations in Texas. How do the numbers look for vaccination rates by race / ethnicity? In this case, a back of the envelope calculation shows the following.

  • From a 2005 survey, Hispanics make up 34% of the population. That would represent approximately 10 million Texans. From the vaccine data we see approximately 800,000 people vaccinated – close to 8%
  • White non hispanic therefore makes up about 14 million people – and we see that 1.6m have been vaccinated – about 11.4%

A large number of vaccinations, close to 1m (about 3.5% of the population), have been administered to ‘unknown’ race / ethnicity which may likely be those who declined to disclose. On balance it looks like more needs to be done to roll out the vaccine to the Hispanic population

Conclusion

Is the Governor directionally right?

Probably YES. There’s enough good news about the vaccine rollout to be hopeful about the future.

Is the timing right. NO!

  • Texas is lagging behind the majority of states for vaccine rollout
  • The data does not clearly evidence that vulnerable popuations (especially Hispanic) have had the right level of vaccine penetration;
  • Many counties are still experiencing high levels of new cases and deaths

What should the Governor Do? Phase it!

In this case, the solution should be straight forward. PHASE it!

It would show good leadership to let business owners, and people know how and when restrictions could be lifted, IF the pace of progress is sustained.

Leadership matters, and the Governor’s actions simply tempt people into reckless behaviors which make it all the more difficult for the health care system and vaccine roll out to get ahead of the curve.

This is another example of declaring victory too soon. Be patient Mr Governor. Don’t lead when your data doesn’t quite support it. 6,700 Texans died from COVID in February.

Phase it in…. allow 25% restaurant capacity etc in 2 week phases. Within a month the vaccine data should be so much better, and more evidence of lower case generation, and lower fatalities.

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How can you tell a poliitican is lying… their lips are moving

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem got one thing right in her TV remarks today, South Dakota cases peaked earlier than many other states.

As you can see in the chart below, SD cases peaked in November. However in a state of only 870,000 people – SD experienced far higher case loads and fatalities than necessary.

South Dakota is 7th in the Nation on COVID deaths per capita. And as the chart shows, virtually all of the deaths occurred since July. That’s right – virtually no attempt of learning the lessons from other states – and ‘following the science’ by slowing or stopping the spread.

I have a theory that the only reason why SD cases fell is actually because they are getting closer to herd immunity and that’s slowing the rate. Example over 100,000 people tested positive (more than 10% of the population). We all know that not everyone who has it, gets tested (particularly in the earlier days) – so is it reasonable to assume that the actual percentage of people who had it is 2 or 3x greater than these numbers. I think so.

1,886 people have died in South Dakota. As we all know, many of these deaths could be prevented by wearing a mask and stopping the spread. Ask the hospital workers how they felt at the peak of their crisis.

South Dakota has one of the lowest population densities in the country. Unlike NY, NJ etc where people are packed in to small spaces, South Dakota residents have plenty of space to spread out. Its quite some accomplishment then to create this level of covid spread.

Being a top 7 state for fatalities per capita is far from success in my view.

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Dramatic Reduction in Covid Cases; over 20% of the US population has some vaccination or prior COVID recovery

Excellent news to report. With the public holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas behind us, we are really starting to see a substantial, and sustained reduction in COVID cases across America.

Here’s the current rate of new case development:

The US is now #14 of the countries with highest per capita rate of new cases – at 237 new cases per million per day.

Here’s the timeline trend over the past 5 months

Fatalities are still very high in a number of states, as you can see below. Total US deaths are getting close to half a million (489,000).

Ohio currently has the worst fatality rate per capita

Results by state

Tennessee is now performing better than the US average

Vaccination News

Since inception and as of Feb 19th :

  • 60 million doses have been administered
  • 17 million people have received 2 doses
  • A further 24 million people have received 1 dose
  • In total – 41 million people have received 1 or more shots
  • In the last 12 days, 20 million vaccine doses have been administered! Thats 1.6 million per day

Add to these figures, that 28 million COVID cases have been recorded. Using various assumptions we can say about 23 million have recovered – which means that well over 74 million people are either vaccinated or have had some exposure to COVID. That’s 23% of the US population.

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US Makes Great Progress in Case Reduction and Vaccination

Great news, US case levels are now back to pre Thanksgiving levels. That is a welcome reduction – and with no major public holiday events coming up soon, this new trend should continue. Also, this week, it has been reported that number of people hospitalized with COVID has reduced below 100,000 for the first time since Thanksgiving.

Also more people have received at least one dose of vaccine than have tested positive for COVID. The US has vaccinated 36.2m people! This compares to 26m people who have tested positive

Since cases typically jump around holiday events – the next event to prepare for is the school / university spring break period – which is typically 2nd week of March. In the meantime lets hope for another month of continued case reduction.

Where in America?

Compare my chart below with that on previous blog posts. Certainly a more continued, broad based reduction in cases. Arizona is no longer the top spot for new cases (well done Arizona). The top spots now are Texas, and South Carolina.

Arizona still takes the #1 spot for highest level of current fatalities

A quick look at the Dakotas

South Dakota has now reduced the caseload to very acceptable levels. Current fatalities at 4.1. per million per day are not in the acceptable range yet – but are far below the 30 per million per day at the peak

North and South Dakota are in the top 5 of states who have administered the highest percentage of vaccines that have been delivered to them.

Wrong way messaging in Texas

Texas is still on the climb – both for cases and fatalities. Ted Cruise – Senator for Texas needs to step things up there.

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Improvement Across the US

Good news, almost all states across the US are reporting reductions in new cases of COVID. The one exception is Alabama, with a 4% rise over the previous week. The impact across the US is that cases have fallen 16% week over week.

Here are the week over week case changes:

Shout out to CA with a 30% reduction is cases. While Wyoming has the best performance – its smaller size relative to CA means that I give most kudos to CA.

But with many states showing very substantial declines – the result is the map of the US looks better each day. Notice how the states in the north are starting to get into a more acceptable range of cases – from Washington to Missouri.

Arizona seems determined to hold onto the #1 spot for cases.

Average daily fatalities.

For the month of January so far, deaths are 86,000, substantially higher than the prior month. Average deaths are 3,100 per day – but at least this looks like this could be the peak (especially if daily cases continue to fall – and vaccines are administered to the most vulnerable).

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Impact of Vaccine – Great news in the UK; too early to tell in Israel

Following my post of yesterday – reporting that Israel has the highest per capita rate of vaccine doses administered I thought I’d check out the charts to see how much of an impact that is having.

The answer is …. a little to early to tell.

Looking at this chart we can see the current rate of new infections has substantially declined from 925 cases per million of population to 741. But make no mistake – both are astronomically high rates of new cases. Little wonder why Israel has been on lockdown since early January. As other countries have shown, curfews and lock downs are very effective at reducing transmission

Here’s a list of the countries with the highest rate of new covid cases. Israel is still #2 on this list. The relatively good news, US is #6

The United Kingdom

The UK has a more impressive story to tell and across a population about 10x higher than Israel. From a high of 890 cases per million per day – to a current level of 475. That is nothing short of impressive. In the last week alone cases have fallen 29%.

This is likely a combination of lock down restrictions – and successful distribution of vaccines.

Unfortunately the fatality rate is still extremely high in the UK – with over 18 deaths per million per day. The number of deaths across the UK in January (about 30,000) is more than twice those of December. January has been the peak month for deaths, exceeding those in the inception of the crisis in April (24,000).

A Personal Summer of Covid

Summer 2022 is my own personal summer of COVID. Within a one week period – all of us got hit with the virus with vastly different outcomes. My 12 year old breezed through it; I had to take 3 days off work to rest up and deal with concurrent sickness for both adults.

Add in a beautiful new puppy to the mix and it was EXHAUSTING. (who can resist the puppy though!)

Thankfully 1 month later we’re all about back to normal energy levels – but getting to that point does take a while.

From the statistics point of view – I’m not in them. Home tested multiple times – I didn’t need to go to the doctors. I’m fortunate that I could work remotely as soon as I felt able. So that’s probably pretty much the case for many households – which means that the numbers we see below are likely under reported by a significant margin.

Cases rising rapidly – but fatalities stabilized

That’s about 3.5m new positive cases in July – and 10,000 deaths in the US. That’s sharply down from the 20m cases recorded in January – but still a significant number. I’m conviced summer camps are the big spreader (that’s where my daughter picked it up).

Across the US hotspots are shown below. What happens in Vegas is not likely staying in Vegas.

However – across the country fatality levels are mostly under 2 fatalities per million per day with a few exceptions that are shown on the map. Probably getting to a level where most people don’t judge the risk to be high and as such I rarely see anyone wearing masks these days.

New Mexico looks high from a fatalities perspective – and possibly experiencing hospital strain:

Florida has a steadily rising fatality curve:

Here’s Florida’s most recent monthly totals: 307,000 new cases and ~1,800 fatalies in July (to July 29th).

Conclusion: This current strain is so viral that catching it is probably inevitable – especially if you haven’t had it before and your last boost was more than 6 months ago.

Be careful – and if you have complicating conditions BOOST UP and MASK UP.

Portugal; Australia and New Zealand lead current COVID fatality rates

Portugal, New Zealand and Australia are currently leading the per capita rates of fatalities which poses an interesting question – how are these countries addressing this?

Thankfully it looks as though Portugal is bending the curve on cases and fatalities.

The last 6 months have each seen over 500 deaths per month in Portugal – a figure that was not reached in April to November 2021. The last 6 months account for 20% of all COVID fatalities in that country.

Australia and New Zealand were very successful in combating covid in the early waves. However as can be seen from below the variants of occurring since Dec 2021 have been the most severe for these countries.

The curve is even more disturbing for Australia. 75% of all COVID deaths in Australia have occurred in the last 6 months.

And even more so in New Zealand – 96% of all fatalities have been in the last 6 months

Hawaii experiences surge of new covid cases

A round up of US stats on COVID

Here’s the US map using count of new cases per million. Hawaii, Florida, Rhode Island, Nevada and Alaska lead the statistics:

Here it is in table form. At over 800 cases per million per day – Hawaii certainly looks very much off track.

Here’s the Hawaii chart – no mistaking an upward trend of cases here:

Maine, New Mexico and Montana lead current US fatality rates from Covid. .

The first thing to acknowledge is all of these states are relatively low populations. New Mexico is the highest of the three at 2 million people; Maine 1.3 million and Montana 1 million.

Here’s the US map:

Here’s the data in table form. These levels are too high for the top 8 states listed below.

COVID Milestone: ~1 million US deaths in 800 days

NY Times reported on May 19th that the US had officially recorded one million deaths from COVID. This is slightly different than the 993,000 reported on the World Health Organization data source. That’s almost 800 days since the 100 death recorded. Just goes to show how this pandemic had a long term impact. All those people who said it would be 2 years before we got back to normal were generally on point.

Current data shows approximately 100,000 average daily new cases and approximately 328 average daily deaths (that’s about 1 fatality per million of population per day – still about double the rate of a seasonal flu).

Monthly view of the US:

The worst months for deaths since inception were Dec 2020 and Jan – Feb 2021 (pre vaccination) about 244,000 deaths. The same three months starting Dec 2021 (generally post vaccination availability) recorded ~170,000 deaths. Still a lot of people.

Omicron recorded over 20 million cases in January 2022 (and 64,000 deaths); so far in May we are at 1.6 million cases (and 6,000 deaths).

US Trend – Year to Date:

Nevertheless we have truly peaked. Omicron generated the highest peak – but, comined with vaccination, must have pushed us close to herd immunity:

Lifetime average daily trend for the US:

Blue line is the average daily cases; red line is average daily fatalities. Average daily cases in January 2022 were more than 3 times those of January 2021 (the prior peak)

Lets take a look where cases and fatalities are highest. Seems there are a few hot spots remaining across the US.

Daily Fatalities: Kansas; Kentucky; New Mexico and Alaska lead the average fatality data:

Most other states are well under 1 fatality per million per day.

New cases: Rhode Island; Connecticut and Hawaii lead the way.

Ideas for blogs

Now that this wave seems to be on the way out – its making me think of some ideas for future posts:

  1. Did we create too much stimulus? A key question as we are unquestionably heading into a bear market and possible recession
  2. How did the market react along this two year journey?
  3. How did the orginal predictions of fatalities play out?
  4. How many times did we declare victory?
  5. How many years of toilet paper inventory do we collectively hold today?!

What questions does the pandemic play out for you as you look over the past 2 years?

What decisions would you change if we had to relive this again? What advice would you leave for your children? Did you emerge from the pandemic with a new skill? Did you emerge fitter (or fatter)?

These are my thoughts and questions as to how we wrap up the pandemic – and hopefully wrap up this blog.

Omicron is outta here!

We finally turned back the covid curve – and returned to about the same levels of new cases as in late November. Great progress – but largely the credit goes to the virus which essentially burnt itself out. As you’ll see from the numbers – it simply was too viral.

The US has officially recorded 78 million cases of COVID since inception – and almost 40% of those were covered in the last 3 months due to the OMICRON variant.

While we can be thankful that OMICRON is less fatal than preceeding variants – it has still resulted in over 160,000 deaths. I dread to think what would have happened had OMICRON been the first variant detected – and to hit an unvaccinated population.

Anyway it didn’t play out that way – so here are the current numbers.

Let us think about the area under the chart – with the high peak level of almost 2,500 cases per million per day. That represents over 30 million new covid cases here in the US and almost 160,000 deaths.

To put that in context, January was the highest ever month for cases in the US. The past 3 months of cases (Dec, Jan, Feb = 30 million) are more than the rest of 2021 (Jan – Nov = 28 million) combined.

Hardly any state in the US is showing significant new case levels!

The fatality curve is still slow in coming down – but we can expect much progress on that in the coming months. Here’s the heatmap of fatalities in the US today:

Maine and Ohio lead the way. Tennessee is #5.

The states that were hit earliest by Omicron seem to now have reduced fatalities numbers:

US Cases by State. Outlook – The best year for Mardi Gras since 2019!

What a difference a couple of weeks makes. Here is the current map of the US for cases. Notice very few hotspots. Only 4 states have more than 1,000 new cases per million of population per day. Tennessee is one of the four; the others are Alaska; Mississippi and West Virginia.

And here’s the same chart from Jan 31st. That’s quite some improvement:

Its not surpising then to see most states with this kind of a curve:

Or this:

So lets look at the remaining outliers. Tennessee may still be high – but it has improved a lot (for cases):

Hospital capacity is still very low in TN – sub 10%. Still no time to schedule those elective procedures.

Mississippi has a very high rate of fatalities (it leads the nation); almost twice that per capita as Tennessee

West Virgina has also improved; but is still relatively high – and fatalities are increasing:

Mardi Gras is on!

Get your party on – Louisiana has definitely brought its numbers down. Get your booster on and party like its 2019 (pre covid) again!

Looks like we are done with the Omicron wave with respect to cases; February may be tough in places for fatalities and stressed hospital capacity – but the outlook is definitely positive.

Is all this good news, and back to normalcy, the reason for the high gas prices and inflation in general?

US and World Crests the Omicron wave for CASES but not yet for fatalities

The case curve is looking a lot better and a number of states are saying “NO MORE RESTRICTIONS”. Still the fatality curve is very high and persistent. February will be another tough month for fatalities. Average daily deaths are about 2,300.

Most of the rest of the world has also crested the wave

There’s a lot of good news below – but in aggregate thisis reflected in the WHO Global Stats – which clearly show a reduction in cases. Week of Jan 24th reported 24 million cases (the high bar) – most recent number is closer to 7 million.

The UK has peaked – but seems to be plateauing at still a relatively high level of cases. The fatality curve is bending.

India seemed to barely register an Omicron wave. The most recent peak is less than a 10th of other Omicron impacted countries. Why?

Italy had a slower ramp up and a slower ramp down for cases. Still struggling with a persistently high level of daily deaths

Germany looks to have only recently just begun it’s Omicron wave

Which is similar to some eastern europe countries including Russia and Ukraine:

Enough of the pictures – lets look at the tables. Denmark continues to lead the world for cases – but take into consideration – it’s a small population – smaller than Tennessee!:

South America

South America generally experienced a shorter curve. Is that because they are in their summer or are other factors at work – such as vaccination rates; testing protocols etc