🦠Covid-19 - 18/03/20 | Together at home

📊 Daily Data Brief: 

202,272 cumulative cases (+19,547)

Active cases: 111,447 (+15,773) (this is the number of currently infected patients)

Total Death: 8,012  (+838)

Serious/Critical Cases:  6,423  (+260) 

Source: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

Case curves (update coming later once ECDC releases new data as well as new script to include more countries)

Governments now speak in unison about not only the global threat of the COVID19 pandemic but also advocate or enforce “suppression” as the only available urgent action to fight it. The uncertainty of how long individuals and community will need to endure this physical distancing remains unclear. Beyond the undeniable economic costs of these measures (palliative expansionary fiscal policies have now been announced by most G7 governments), the human cost and our resilience as a society has come forward in the discussion.

This resilience had come earlier in Paris, London and Washington, as the top of governments were contemplating how best to fight the coming pandemic, and mostly out of economic convenience, were doubting the public’s resilience (see my previous post “Underestimating the public”). Lack of resilience was then the ultimate argument against implementing the unavoidable “social distancing” measures needed to save lives. It is a rare occurrence for governments to put resilience at the centre of their deliberation. As I had written before, public health has been underfunded in most of the G7 world, mental health comes even further behind, and resilience is more something they expect than worry about on certain policy choice.

And here we are, governments but also individuals and community being faced with the question of how long we will be able to deal with this lockdown particularly given that nobody is able to put a definite date on it. Some of us are looking for good news and still hoping that this is fear-mongering as a mechanism to cope. What is more heartening is how a number of people from futurists, technologists, artist and more generally ordinary people and communities are being increasingly creative and active in finding how they can help and contribute in fighting COVID19 including and starting to care with their closed ones.

Nothing exemplifies this better than the start of #togetherathome hashtag by Chris Martin on social media to play track request from fans on his home piano. COVID19 has exposed the fragility of our lives, the shortcomings of our past policies and behaviour, but can also now help us think about new beginnings. This necessary rebirth and thinking will happen from the most important and intimate locus of our life: our home.

What happens to the virus and beyond it is up to us. We will all start together at home.

🦠 Video of the day: Chris Martin kicked-off #togetherathome on Instagram. Cold Play might have been well prepared for this, as ColdPlay had already announced that they will stop touring to reduce the band carbon footprint. (Link)

⏱ As Neil Ferguson et al. paper “Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID- 19 mortality and healthcare demand now sinks in beyond its initial recipient, federal governments, society is reflecting on its meaning and questions whether we will be able to cope. In a great article, Brian Resnick at Vox pens “Scientists warn we may need to live with social distancing for a year or more” and explores the implication for our economies and beyond.

Resnik asks:

“Can we find a new balance between the need to “flatten the curve” and the need to live our lives and revive the economy?”

It is an important question and one which we need to resolve at a deep level and certainly not only at the top of government. As needed, welcome and most likely determinant Ferguson et al. paper was in inducing the immediate policy action which governments took, it should be seen as the opening of the debate as opposed to its final act. It is no surprise, that even post publication of the paper, a number of academics published in The Lancet, “Evidence informing the UK's COVID-19 public health response must be transparent”. While this letter mainly focuses on the scientific part, there needs to be a continued and open debate on the aftermath of the “suppression” phase of COVID19.

Resnik article does a great service in starting to think about this. (Link

😰 Resnik article references Ashkat Rahti article in Bloomberg: “In the Fight to Save the World, We Need to Be Mentally Resilient”. In it, Rahti gives 4 recommendations in helping us not only copebut also move forward in this sustained predicament that COVID19 has put us in:

“It’s ok to be anxious, but use it to act.

Find trusted sources of information.

Build and nurture a community

Take a moment to reflect”

A good read. (Link)

🇰🇷 South Korea continues to be a stand out and Denis Normille at Science asks: “Coronavirus cases have dropped sharply in South Korea. What’s the secret to its success?”. It is a continued call to action to our respective governments to scale and improve the quality of testing during the suppression phase we entered. (Link)

🍎 The New York Times looks at another capacity shortfall in fighting COVID19 in “N.Y. May Need 18,000 Ventilators Very Soon. It Is Far Short of That.”. Another key area to increase capacity urgently and in parallel to “suppression”. (Link)

🔮 Futurist and friend Azeem Azhar writes “A better way?” on the back of Neil Ferguson’s paper, focusing beyond capacity to include “adaption and resilience”. In it he recalls an interview he did for his Exponential View newsletter with General Sir Richard Barrons who used to run Britain’s Joint Operations Command talking about resilience:

“This has accentuated this millennial sense of it’s all about the individual and perfect freedom to lead your life, really without commitment or expectation, or any sense of harm.

That period is now over, and partly because of the way the strategic context is changing, partly because of the way technology is changing, we have to come to terms with the fact that we in the West exists as strategic snowflakes now, where our daily life is enormously fragile.”

A hopeful, imaginative and thoughtful essay as we plan the next phase together at home. (Link)

🏛 Conservative politician John Redwood pens “Why the Government’s response to the virus can’t be settled by the science – with decisions made by epidemiologists”. This is an important read from someone who was both in government and an advisor. It was highlighted to me by my friend Tony Curzon Price, former advisor to UK business secretary Greg Clarke. Tony wrote a deeper and more philosophical piece (with some mountaineering personal anecdotes) on “Saint-Simonian and Habermasian uses of models when we face radical uncertainty”. Whilst for now we have had the urgent “social distancing” policy followed by £330bn guarantees to accompany it, both of these articles explore how best to conduct and arrive at the right policy balance with the appropriate democratic process. (Link and the more in-depth article from Tony)

💊 We should be heartened by the efforts deployed by scientists and pharmaceutical companies, together with regulators, to arrive as quickly as possible with a therapeutic or vaccines and open other policy options to deal with the pandemic. Carl Zimmer for the New Times writes: “Hundreds of Scientists Scramble to Find a Coronavirus Treatment. In it he focuses on a novel approach explored by Quantitative Biosciences Institute (QBI) Coronavirus Research Group, based at the University of California, San Francisco. The group at QBI is developing an interaction map of COVID19 to find existing drugs which could interfere with the virus pathway. Dr. Krogan and his colleagues had used a similar approach for HIV. Uplifting and fascinating. (Link)

🦠 Continuing on finding the truth about whether the virus is airborne and how long it stays active on surfaces the NIH put a very good update on what we know so far to inform our personal and collective behaviour to curb its transmission.(Link)

🏠 Jason Fried, Founder and CEO of Basecamp (a successful project management software tool) publishes the letter to employees about working from home during this challenging face. It should be a reference for all employers. Fried is no beginner in the subject, having written with his co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson a book titled “Remote: office not required”. This is what a thoughtful CEO writes to hie employees. (Link)

📊 A picture is worth a thousand words

  1. 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)

  2. A helpful guide by VOX of the “9 coronavirus pandemic charts everyone should see” (Link)

  3. 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)

  4. UPDATE IN PROGRESS (visualisation by country coming)❗️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. You can clearly see that South Korea is an outlier (as already shown in my newsletter “Better safe than sorry” and that the severity of this outbreak will depend on the behaviours of the governed and the decisive action of our respective governments). (Link)

  5. 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)

  6. 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 Con prepared by Neel V. Patel for MIT Technology (Article)

  7. This is the New York Times data and graph page on COVID19 with an update map of the US alone (Link)

🏛 (NEW❗️Notable collaborative projects 

  1. 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)

  2. Tariq Krim has started a COVID19 website tracking data about the government policy response to the pandemic (Link)

🙌 (UPDATED❗️) There are many ways in which you are giving back to our newsletter: comments, thank yous, links and sharing.

As mentioned yesterday, journalist Angelica Mari graciously offered to translate my newsletter in Portuguese. Here are the last two versions (Link and 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)