📊 Daily Data Brief:
487,063 cumulative cases (+52,552)
Active cases: 347,461 (+44,171) (this is the number of currently infected patients)
Total Deaths: 22,025(+2,424)
Serious/Critical Cases: 17,709 (+4,579)
Death curves (updated daily as ECDC releases). Major update with per country graphs now available❗️(Link)
Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged political leadership not to squander the second opportunity that the world has to “suppress and control” the COVID19 pandemic (Video of the day below). He also urged the communities to take ownership at their level and do the right thing.
And yet we are unsure whether our respective political leadership will squander this “second opportunity” or not. And with a pandemic (even more so than with climate change), one large bad actor can unilaterally squander the efforts of others. It is the first time that our global order is faced with this invisible enemy which puts cooperation as a core principle of our global response. And we need to ask ourselves what is the immunity that the leadership has to not see the suffering that this “dangerous” virus is wrecking at the heart of our community and which prevents it from responding adequately. An immunity which prevents it to act forcefully and cooperate as urged by the WHO. We have to ask ourselves whether this immunity is conferred by special interest groups or by a majority of the herd of voters which elect leaders in the free world.
We are already starting to hear the voices that the cure cannot be more expensive than the disease. There was a headlines in The Times (UK): “Economic crash could cost more lives than coronavirus, says expert”. They will grow louder as the economic dislocations that the virus causes accelerate and amplify. A number of citizens have already lost their jobs but we have not yet seen large scale bankruptcies. Chapter 11 practitioners are going to get very busy in the US in the coming weeks. And in this “GDP versus lives” debate we need to ask one important question: “What GDP do we want?”. Is it the myopic one which creates manufacturing dependency to a Chinese regime whose censorship and values have been overlooked for the sake of greater profit margins. That myopia which is costing us all so dearly now in human live and trillion dollars.
We have seen in this pandemic that the GDP we were pursuing was favouring efficiency versus resilience and decency. There are images going around of nurses in New York wearing trash bags as protective equipments with the headline “treated like trash”. We have the most vulnerable in our economy, the gig workers, doing the most valuable job in our locked-down cities without health or pay protection.
Nothing more than Marc Andreesen “Software is eating the world” characterises the primacy of efficiency over resilience. And yet, we should not all become luddites and concentrate our grief against software per se. Software is neither good or bad. There is not a second culture (science) (CP Snow had even warned against it in his famous lecture) or a third one (technology). The science and technology we have and develop emerges from the culture which allows it. The same applies to the political leadership we have. And we have to ask ourselves what are the immune responses that we have built as a culture (or at least a dominant one) since the last catastrophe to arrive at where we are.
An immunity which is putting a world that we also cherish at risk. A world whose importance and neglect has been exposed by COVID19, and which we had lost sight of and neglected over the years. Maybe that is the world that software was voraciously and implicitly allowed to eat. Software was eating a world that we care about. Fortunately software does not have the omnipotence that Andreesen conveniently ascribed to it or maybe it was just that COVID19 fortunately arrived before software took its last bite.
A lost world which we are rediscovering and one whose loss of sight potentially blocked us till now from the right course of action. Maybe the immune response of our culture was misdirected. Its selectivity was worst than an indiscriminate chemotherapy which attacks both healthy and cancer cells. Maybe our socio-economic immune response was attacking the healthy part in us and leaving the cancer of our society spread.
We need to see past the immediate COVID19 response rightly urged by Dr Tedros and investigate and cure another herd immunity which is currently hindering our response, hindered our preparedness and will seed the next crisis. In the non pandemic world, maybe the 2008 crisis was the first window of opportunity.
Let’s not squander the second opportunity for both.
🎬Video of the day: “We squandered the First Window of Opportunity” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Link)
🦠 Long read: “How will the pandemic end?” by Ed Yong for the Atlantic
This is a long article which provides a good summary of how we got here and where we are going. Sobering, partisan at times and quite ominous about the US situation. (Link)
🦠 Neil Ferguson et al. published “Report 11: Evidence of initial success for China exiting COVID-19 social distancing policy after achieving containment”. This is obviously an area which policy makers will look at, thinking about how and when to exit from the lockdown that they have either recommended to or enforced on their population. Outside China, Italy will be the next one to look at in the Western world. (Link)
💊 There is another article on serological testing and convalescent plasma in Nature. Amy Maxen writes “How blood from coronavirus survivors might save lives”. Key to this becoming a reality is the scaling and quality of serological testing. The Los Angeles Times writes: “Wanted: A coronavirus test to identify people who were infected and then recovered”. This is a key area of testing in getting safely and durably citizens (from healthcare workers, to volunteers, to workers more generally) back in the caring and productive positions to get our economies moving again post lockdown containment. (Link and Link)
🇬🇧 Community and volunteering are key in fighting this pandemic. So heartening to see the news out of England where “More than 500,000 people sign up to be NHS volunteers”. This was twice as large a number as the NHS target. (Link)
📰 The Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) has put together a great resource. During a pandemic, investigative journalism has a key role to play in the democratic debate and keeping the political leadership accountable. The GIJN has curated a number of these stories covering a broad range of topics:
A great series of the best investigative journalism on the COVID19 crisis (Link)
🚴🏼 Caroline O'Donovan writes “Senators Are Calling For Better Protections For Delivery Workers During The Coronavirus Pandemic” for BuzzFeed. It looks at how paradoxically the most valuable workers during shelter-in-place orders are also the most vulnerable and unprotected. Food delivery for thought (Link)
😷 Deborah Abrams Kaplan writes “How health systems are responding as COVID-19 squeezes the medical supply chain” in the specialist publication Supply Chain Dive. It describes how Indiana University Health (IU Health) is dealing with the acute lack of availably of critical personal protective equipment and testing during this pandemic despite having taken pre-emptive measures as early as mid-January. It begs the question as to where we would be if every part of society had acted as pre-emptively as they did. It looks at some of the difficult regulatory challenges, supply shortages from China, price increases and competition between states to secure the supply. A great read. (Link)
🧮 It is hard these days to get an article on epidemiology modelling without a sensational title. Martin Ensenrink and Kai Kupferschmidt are no exception in “Mathematics of life and death: How disease models shape national shutdowns and other pandemic policies” for Science. This is an area which I covered previously including yesterday on the sensational and misleading reporting by the FT of the “Oxford Study”.
The authors recount a quote allegedly from statistician George Box: “All models are wrong, but some are useful.”
US Epidemiologist Caitlin Rivers of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security is quoted in the article with some great points and suggestions:
…most of the key players are academics with little role in policy. They don’t typically “participate in the decision-making processes … they sort of pivot into a new world when an emergency hits,” she says. “It would be more effective if they could be on-site with the government, working side by side with decision makers.” Rivers argues for the creation of a National Infectious Disease Forecasting Center, akin to the National Weather Service. It would be the primary source of models in a crisis and strengthen outbreak science in “peacetime.”
As I said yesterday, nothing makes that point better than the name of the institution of Adam Kucharski, one of the world’s leading epidemiologist: the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. As I wrote yesterday they should immediately rename themselves the London School of Pandemics.
Unlike what Health Secretary Matt Hancock said during BBC Question Time last week, this is unlikely to be a one in a century pandemic. What we need to make sure is that our response to COVID19 till now is a one in a century level failure. It will start by better funding for these labs and more experience and thoughtfulness in including them into the democratic debates including with economic modellers. A great read. (Link)
📰 NEW❗️Cronycle resource:
Cronycle has made available a number of open-access feeds on its website which I extensively use for the Corona Daily. The four first feeds are:
1. COVID-19 General (Link)
2. COVID-19 x Resilience (Link)
3. COVID-19 x HCQ/CQ (Link) (HydroxyChloroquine and Chloroquine)
4. Gig Economy x COVID-19 (Link)
And I have added a new feed below
NEW❗️Supply Chain x COVID-19 (Link)
I will write more in the future on how you can leverage Cronycle for keeping up to date in between two editions of this newsletter. (Link)
📊 A picture is worth a thousand words: Global (🌎) and local (with relevant flag) visualisation and forecasting tool
“Going Critical” by Kevin Simler is a detailed interacting essay talking about complex systems, the importance of understanding networks, modelling and how this applies to: memes, infectious diseases, herd immunity, wildfire, neutrons and culture. Must read (Link)
🌎 Country by Country Curves (
❗️) This is a GitHub made by my friend Francois Lagunas (co-founder and CTO extraordinaire of Stupeflix, a company we backed). He has written a script to scrape deaths and number of cases in order to visualise the rate of growth on a logarithmic scale. He has taken a time offset for countries assuming that South Korea and Italy are 36 days behind China’s outbreak, and France and the USA a further 9 days behind. Added a number of countries as well. Great resource (Link)
CityMapper has started to produce City Mobility Index to show how much a City is moving. This is a very good indicator of how well lockdowns are respected around the world: Barcelona (4% of city moving) at one end and St Petersburg at the other end (68% of city moving) for yesterday (Link)
🌎A great resource put together by Ben Kuhn and Yuri Vishnevsky. At a time when we need solidarity and cooperation, I prefer their subtitle “We need stronger measures, much faster” than their title. It’s a simulator on what case growth looks like depending on your community’s measures. Fantastic resource to stir communities and governments to action (Link)
NEW❗️🇩🇪 The COVID19 dashboard for Germany is one of the best around. (Link)
🌎A helpful guide by VOX of the “9 coronavirus pandemic charts everyone should see” (Link)
🌎Data and chart regularly updated by the Centre for the Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. It maps the effective reproduction number (also known as R0) of COVID19. You want to get it below 1 as fast as possible to contain an epidemic. (Link to see charts and more data about your country)
🌎This is a great COVID19 Dashboard prepared by Andrzej Leszkiewicz. Andrzej has also written an introductory and explanatory blog for it (“Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) fatality rate: WHO and media vs logic and mathematics”). It is a very extensive dashboard with 28 pages. I particularly like the country comparison tab, which allows you to track and benchmark the curve of the epidemic (number of cases and deaths) in your country with that of another. Very well done and informative. (Link)
🇸🇬/🌎 Singapore remains the gold standard of dashboard. Here is an article with the Best and Worst of all dashboard in the world, with Pros and Cons prepared by Neel V. Patel for MIT Technology (Article)
🏛 Notable collaborative projects
NEW❗️Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker (OxCGRT) was launched yesterday. Data is collected from public sources by a team of dozens of Oxford University students and staff from every part of the world. It also looks at stringency of the measures and plots stringency with case curves. A great initiative and resource (Link)
Mike Butcher (Editor at Large Techcrunch and founder of TechforUK), had refocused TechforUK on the fight against COVID19. It is a very effective hands-on team of volunteer. Do reach out to them. He has also teamed up with We are now working closely with the volunteers behind the “Coronavirus Tech Handbook”. (They are ‘cousins’ of ours who originally created the Electiontechhandbook). Volunteer collaboration at its best! (Link)
Tariq Krim has started a COVID19 website tracking data about each government policy response to the pandemic (Link)
📈 Exponential growth and epidemics (permanent video)
This is an excellent video explaining “exponential growth” and epidemics. Although we are all familiar with the phrase, its authors rightly says that “yet human intuition has a hard time recognising what it means”. This is a ❗️MUST WATCH❗️to understand fully what is upon us but also how early behavioural changes at scale can have a massive impact on the level of exponential growth of COVID19 (Link)