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Coronavirus in Numbers: The Story Data Tells Us

The worst is over for China in terms of new cases Coronavirus is about to explode in USA with tests becoming b
Published March 3, 2020 Updated March 5, 2020
  • The worst is over for China in terms of new cases
  • Coronavirus is about to explode in USA with tests becoming broadly available
  • More than 48,000 patients have recovered, that’s more than 52% of total cases registered globally
  • You’re actually more likely to die by flu than Coronavirus
  • Babies are the safest according to the Fatality by Age Index


Whatever part of the world you’re in, you’ve been a part of a room where COVID19 or the Coronavirus, as it is more commonly known, has been mentioned. People in many, if not all parts of the world, are fearful over the pandemic.

This fear has translated into all spheres as world markets have plummeted, schools in Pakistan have closed down for indefinite periods, borders with nations suffering the worst outbreaks have been shut down as a precautionary measure, flights have been cancelled and even football matches have been postponed in Italy.

The response to the outbreak by governments has been reactionary and focused on containing the spread which has led to tensions escalating. Data gives us a more complete picture of the virus and what to make of the global pandemic based on what part of the world you currently find yourself in.

The virus is believed to have originated from a “wet market” in Wuhan, China on the 31st of December 2019 when Chinese authorities alerted the World Health Organization of several cases of “unknown pneumonia” in the port city. Since then, over 3000 people have died from the 91,000 cases reported from 76 countries globally, 80,000 of which have been reported in China.

[caption id="attachment_576651" align="aligncenter" width="605"] Source: Worldometer[/caption]

Reading headlines and seeing the world engulfed in COVID19, the outcome seems bleak but according to WHO data, a staggering 52% of all reported cases have been successfully treated. That’s over 48,000 people.

[caption id="attachment_576652" align="aligncenter" width="686"] Source: Worldometer[/caption]

The worst is over for China

While China continues to report a large amount of new cases every day, they are no longer the majority of new cases. Countries where the cases have increased the most are South Korea followed by Iran and Italy.

[caption id="attachment_576653" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Source: Worldometer[/caption]

Cases in South Korea have exponentially increased with over 800 reported today alone taking the total to 5000.

While Pakistan has reported a total of 5 cases, none of which are critical, schools have been instructed to shut down for the next few days as a precaution by the government while broader testing is carried out.

Broad Availability of Testing Kits Explains Large Increases in Reported Cases

Germany, Spain and Italy all saw increases of 48%, 29% and 30% respectively in the past week due to the recent availability of testing kits. This will continue to be the trend in countries which are only recently conducting tests such as USA, which can be expected to report large amounts of cases in the coming days.

[caption id="attachment_576658" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Source: Worldometer[/caption]

In China, a spike was also witnessed when all the suspected Hubei Province cases were tested according to a changed diagnoses criteria. This was the reason of the rise by over 14000. The method was later reversed.

[caption id="attachment_576656" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Source: Worldometer[/caption]

Capitalism and Coronavirus just don’t go well together

Reports from the business world are estimating a $1.1 Trillion loss in total output due to the pandemic and the resulting fear. This figure can increase or decrease based on how effectively the spread can be contained but global economic growth forecasts as of March 2nd show the grim reality.

Moreover, people in the US are reporting that a single test with insurance costs about $1,000 whereas without insurance, the cost is around a mammoth $3,000 to be treated. This explains the relatively small number of reported cases in the United States (103) out which 6 people have died.

Elsewhere, pharmacies jacked up prices of N-95 masks in Pakistan by a colossal 1000% due to the infinite demand and belief that it is an effective preventive measure after the confirmation of the first case. Wearing a mask, however, does not prevent transmission of the virus as evidence suggests.

Why it’s too early to report a fatality rate

The question most asked about the virus is the fatality rate rather than preventative measures one should take. While the number presented in a WHO press conference on the 29th of January was 2% of all cases, data reported by the WHO later proves this to be an over-estimation. The fatality rate comes closer to 0.7% with new cases in China using the more updated reported data.

[caption id="attachment_576663" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Source: WHO[/caption]

For comparison, the case fatality rate for SARS was 10%, and for MERS 34%. Influenza virus (flu) claims an estimated 300,000 to 650,000 every year. That’s 800 to 1800 deaths per day.

This is how likely you are to die depending on your age

[caption id="attachment_576664" align="aligncenter" width="404"] Source: Worldometer[/caption]

Please note that the percentages are indication of likelihood of fatality in terms of age not share of percentage of total deaths according to age.

Good News Comes To Those Who Wait

While COVID19 isn’t some Chinese conspiracy as Trump recently said, there is good news regarding the virus after all. Professor Ed Kaplan, from Yale University stated”In principle, case isolation alone is sufficient to end community outbreaks of [COVID-19] transmission, provided that cases are detected efficiently.”

[caption id="attachment_576666" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Source: Worldometer[/caption]

With the expected increase in reported cases in the US and Europe in the coming days, panic will ensue but containment will eventually happen. The data has shows a trend of more recoveries over new cases, illustrating that the outbreak will “soon” be neutralized.

Until then, wash your hands frequently, seek medical attention if you have the symptoms and don't panic because the numbers don't lie.

This article is an original piece by Najib Shaikh, the author. The data was compiled by Worldometer and provided by National Health Commission of The People's Republic of China (NHC), Health Commission of Hubei Province, China and World Health Organization.


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