Recent events and Coronavirus model update

Many countries, including the UK, are experiencing a resurgence of Covid-19 cases recently, although, thankfully, with a much lower death rate. I have run several iterations of my model in the meantime, introducing several lockdown adjustment points, since my last blog post, as the situation has developed. The key feature is the sharp rise cases, and to a lesser extent, deaths, around the time of the lockdown easing in the summer. I have applied a 10% increase in current intervention effectiveness on October 19th (although there are some differences in the half-term dates across the UK), followed by a partial relaxation after 2 weeks, -5%, reducing the circuit-breaker measure by half – so not back to the level we are at currently. The effect of that change is shown in the final chart in the blog post.

Model updates for UK lockdown easing points

As I reported in my previous post on 31st July, the model I use, originally authored by Prof. Alex de Visscher at Concordia University on Montreal, and described here, was to be updated to handle several phases of lockdown easing, and I’m glad to say that is now done. Alex has been kind enough already to adopt a method I had been considering, of introducing an array of dates and intervention effectiveness parameters, and I have been able to add the recent UK Government relaxation dates, and the estimated effectiveness of each into a new model code. I have run two sets of easing parameters as a sensitivity test.

The effect of lockdown easing in the UK

As reported in my previous post, there has been a gradual reduction in the rate of decline of cases and deaths in the UK relative to my model forecasts. This decline had already been noted, as I reported before, by The Office for National Statistics and their research partners, the University of Oxford, and reported on the ONS website.
I had adjusted the original lockdown effectiveness in my model (from 23rd March) to reflect this emerging change, but as the model had been predicting correct behaviour up until mid to late May, I will present here the original model forecasts compared to the current reported deaths trend.

Phenomenology & Coronavirus – modelling and curve-fitting

There is a range of modelling methods, successively requiring more detailed data, from phenomenological (statistical and curve-fitting) methods, to those which seek increasingly to represent the mechanisms (hence “mechanistic” modelling) by which the virus might spread.

We see the difference between curve-fitting and the successively more complex models that build a model from assumed underlying interactions, and causations of infection spread, between parts of the population.

Some thoughts on the current UK Coronavirus position

A couple of interesting articles on the Coronavirus pandemic came to my attention this week; a recent on in National Geographic on June 26, highlighting a starting comparison of the USA’s cases history and recent spike in case numbers with European data.

This article referred to an older National Geographic piece, from March, by Cathleen O’Grady, referencing a specific chart from Katy Armstrong of the Imperial College Covid-19 Response team.

I noticed, and was interested in that reference following a recent interaction I had with that team, regarding their influential March 16th paper.

Meanwhile, my own forecasting model is still tracking published data quite well, although over the last couple of weeks I don’t think the published rate of deaths is falling as quickly as before.

Coronavirus model tracking, lockdown and lessons

A brief update post to confirm that my Coronavirus model is still tracking the daily reported UK data well, and doesn’t currently need any parameter changes. I go on to highlight some important aspects of emphasis in the Daily Downing St. Update on June 10th, as well as the response to Prof. Neil Ferguson’s comments to the Parliamentary Select Committee for Science and Technology about the impact of an earlier lockdown date, a scenario I have modelled and discussed before.

Current Coronavirus model forecast, and next steps

My model is currently fitting deaths data for the UK, on the originally modelled basis of Government published “all settings” deaths. I plan to compare results by looking at the Gompertz function and Sigmoid charts that Michael Levitt uses.

Michael Levitt’s analysis of European Covid-19 data

I promised in an earlier blog post to present Prof. Michael Levitt’s analysis of Covid-19 data published on the EuroMoMo site for European health data over the last few years. His finding is that COVID19 is similar to flu only in total and in age range excess mortality. Flu is a different virus, has a safe vaccine & is much less a threat to heroic medical professionals.