Coronavirus daily deaths trend

Update: July 8, 2020
I stopped updating this Google Sheet some time ago, as other sources meaningfully improved their data representations. The two that have most impressed me are the New York Times (for all my reservations about the Times’ reporting, they have a truly outstanding data visualization team) and Standard Code‘s COVID Mapping Project (they were, I believe, among the very first to begin providing useful and accessible state-level data). For international trends, Our World in Data is my preferred source.

We have enormous room for improvement in the richness of data being reporting, and I think our individual and collective decision-making abilities are meaningfully impaired by a lack of consistency in how information is being recorded and reported. Who has been hospitalized with Covid as opposed to for Covid? Who has died from Covid as opposed to with Covid? How many cases are asymptomatic vs severe? Etc.

The deeper I got into my exploration of the available data, the more I began to feel like the drunk man searching for his keys under the street light.


I couldn’t find any trend information comparing nation-to-nation on Covid-19 cumulative deaths per capita, so last weekend, I built a simple spreadsheet with Coronavirus deaths based on data from Worldometers. A few days later, I added trend lines for Japan with data from Covid19Japan.

The charts show deaths in 10 nations, with each nation’s trend line beginning on the date of the first death attributed to the virus. I wanted to see trends about deaths, thinking that while they probably weren’t being attributed in a consistent way within countries or from country to country, they were a better indicator than cases, given the inconsistencies in testing protocols.

Two notes:

  1. Given the vastness of the US and China, I think it would be better to look at their data by state and province, but as of this writing, I don’t have that daily death data easily accessible.
  2. It’s pretty clear that nations (and probably regions) have different standards for attributing deaths to Covid-19, so that’s worth remembering as you compare nation to nation.

The easiest way to view the charts is on a desktop via the spreadsheet itself. If you’re on mobile, you’ll want the Google Sheets app. I’ve embedded some of the charts below. If you have recommendations or comments, please comment below or share them on this Twitter thread.

Deaths per Million of Population (log)

Cumulative Deaths (log)

 

Why I’m being especially careful about Covid-19 (and you should, too!)

I haven’t read a succinct explanation for why one should take the Coronavirus seriously, so I thought I’d take a shot at writing one.

I have heard this a lot: “Over ten thousand people have already died from the flu this year. Coronavirus is nothing compared to the flu!”

I sincerely hope that Covid-19 turns out to be no big deal. That would be great! However, there is a meaningful chance that is not how things will shake out.

 

Some stats:

Covid-19 is 2x as contagious as the flu…

…and significantly more deadly. Those who catch it are something like 20x more likely to die from it.

Here’s how I interpret these two things:

The average person who gets Covid-19, gives it to somewhere between 2 and 3.1 people (let’s call it 2.5). And those 2.5 will give it to 6.25. And those 6.25 will give it to 15.6. And so on.

As I understand it, it’s more contagious because it has a longer incubation period. Something like two weeks vs a few days. And people are asymptomatic for longer, so they aren’t doing as much as they could/should to avoid spreading it to others—infected people are just naively lallygagging around smearing a deadly virus on their friends!

More contagious + more deadly = lots and lots and lots more risk.

The regular flu isn’t all that deadly. It knocks you out, but it is really unlikely to kill you (even if you are elderly). Covid-19 is different. At current mortality rates, if somewhere between 30 and 50 people get it, one of them is going to die. 1 in 400 for those under 40, 1 in 30 for those in their 60s, and 1 in 7 for those over 80. If every grandparent gets Covid-19 within the next few months, in 2020 we could lose 10% of all the world’s grandparents to the virus!

That sounds terrible, and especially so if there is nothing we can do about it. However, there is something we can do!

We are some indefinite period of time away from a vaccine (maybe a year, maybe more, maybe less), and while everyone is eventually going to be exposed to this, the more we can slow the spread, the better a chance we will give to those who are unexposed that they can be immunized via a vaccine or protected via herd immunity. Also, I imagine a year of experience will improve our treatments for those infected.

If, however, it spreads super fast—say, everyone on the planet gets it within three months—that’s 8 billion souls getting exposed, and 2% to 3% dying. At 2.5%, that’s (gulp) 200 million people dead.

“Only” about 500,000 humans die each year from the flu.

However, if we are super diligent about slowing the spread (canceling conferences, washing hands, elbow bumps, etc), we can dramatically decrease the mortality rate and the rate of infection. I assume that in a best case scenario, we can reduce the Covid-19 rate of transmission and mortality rate down to something like that of the flu. Maybe we could even eradicate it (I don’t know if this is a possibility, but I guess anything is possible).

Of course, I’m unlikely to die from this; I am a young (46 year old) whipper snapper. But I take it as my personal responsibility as a gentleman to do my best to postpone my inevitable exposure for as long as reasonably possible, thereby limiting my likelihood of transmitting it to others.

If I get it today, then someone who is somehow connected to me is going to die. But if I am not exposed to it for another year, then that’s probably (hopefully!) not going to be the case.

So wash your hands, people!

Ambition, Brutality, and Perseverance in the Khan Dynasty series by Conn Iggulden

The rise and decline of the Mongol Empire

Imagine Game of Thrones, without dragons and zombies, and spanning 100 years of actual history. That’s about the simplest description I can offer for Conn Iggulden’s Khan Dynasty series. The five book historical fiction series begins in the late 1100s with the desperate and brutal childhood of Genghis and ends a century later with the ascendency of his grandson, Kublai.

For the sake of storytelling, Iggulden occasionally departs from the historical record (he informs us in the endnotes where he has done so), but otherwise he painstakingly combines the known historical record with his inferences of what might have happened in the remaining gaps.

Highly recommended.

With the exceptions of civilizations in Africa, Australia, and the Americas, the Mongol Empire affected—either through the existential terror that came from the prospect of being conquered (i.e. Western Europe and South Asia) or from having actually been conquered (everyone else) every civilization. No empire ever grew so fast or ruled so much.

Some quotes from the series:

Courage cannot be left like bones in a bag. It must be brought out and shown the light again and again, growing stronger each time. If you think it will keep for the times you need its you are wrong, It is like any other part of your strength. If you ignore it, the bag will be empty when you need it most.

Book 2

“Genghis did not allow fools to be promoted, and that was a matter of pride for Ho Sa [a conscript, who was initially reluctant and later served enthusiastically]. He rode with the greatest army in the world, as a warrior and a leader. It was no small thing for a man, being trusted.

“How much weight can a man carry without being too slow to fight?” [Reminded me of Eustace Conway‘s quip, “The more you know, the less you carry.”]

Book 3

“We strive and we suffer because we know through those things that we are alive.”

“All that matters is what we do now. We are our only judges…”

Book 4

“Take hold of your life with both hands and crush it to you, my lord. You will not have another in this world.”

If he had learned anything in manhood, it was that it didn’t matter what other people thought of him—even the ones he respected. In the end, he would patch together a life, with its sorry errors and triumphs, just as they had.

Book 5

No worthy goal should come easily, he told himself. Suffering created value.

Somehow, as the years passed, Yao Shu had lost sight of his first ambitions. It was strange how a man could forget himself in the thousand tasks of a day.

Good decisions were never made in anger.

…he would not explain himself to one who would never understand what he was trying to do.

“It matters that we use what we are given, for just our brief time in the sun…. It’s all you can say, when the end comes: ‘I did not waste my time.’ I think that matters. I think it may be all that matters.”