It has been four months since COVID-19 hit the world. The virus, which caused major global disruptions to public health, economies and societies, planted massive worldwide panic of the unknown. Now, after several months, I believe a closer look at the numbers provides real ground for optimism with regard to how long this storm will last.Despite being engaged in the medical equipment business for decades, I do not claim any expertise in biology, immunology, microorganisms or infectious diseases. Numbers, however, can provide an explanation to natural phenomena even in places where the relevant science cannot. After investigating several sources of statistics about the disease, its rate of spread, the rate of new cases, the death rate and more, a certain pattern emerged.Read More Related Articles
Most people are focused on the total number of patients, new patients and deaths worldwide. These numbers are ascending at a deadly pace, literally, and looking at the graphs gives a sense that they are climbing rapidly toward the end of the world. However, the specific data of each country, when examined separately, suggest otherwise. Although this is an early observation, it appears this disease has a periodicity of a classic Gaussian bell-curve shape wherever it appears.Ignoring both tails of the graph, it indicates that this bell’s life cycle is around six to eight weeks, with its peak appearing after about two to four weeks from the time when incidents begin to occur at a substantial rate. When looking only at global numbers as a whole, what is seen is an aggregation of Gaussian bells that join the game at various stages, which completely distorts the analysis of the data and the bell behavior.Of the roughly 80,000 cases of morbidity in China, almost 85% appeared in Hubei, a province of 58.5 million inhabitants – roughly the size of a major European country such as Italy, the UK, France or Germany. The first cases of morbidity in China appeared in late November, but a daily rate of 100 cases began around January 20. In mid-February, the daily rate reached thousands. However, by March 6, it dropped back to about 100 cases per day and has been continuously declining since then. Within seven weeks the disease appeared, peaked and was suppressed almost completely.Many doubt the Chinese figures and claim that the Chinese implemented extreme quarantine that cannot be performed elsewhere. But let’s take a look at the Republic of Korea. South Korea implemented a strategy of large-scale testing instead of massive quarantine. Dozens of daily new cases started to appear around February 20. By March 3, the daily rate had reached a peak of approximately 850 new cases. Since then it has been declining, and on March 15, it stabilized back at less than 100 new cases per day (with only two exceptions). Essentially, within five weeks, the significant level of the epidemic in Korea was suppressed and reached a daily rate that no longer presents a major challenge to the health system.In Japan, on February 20, the rate of daily new cases was still approximately 10. Three weeks later, by March 15-16, it had climbed to a rate of roughly 50 per day, then started declining back to about 20 per day in the last two days. Japan, despite the small numbers, also seems to be following the Gaussian rule, and about five weeks after the onset of the disease, its rate of spreading is declining.