How bad will COVID-19 get? India and Australia have answers.

November 25, 2020

There’s a lot we can’t know if only because many decisions have yet to be made, and treatments are coming; but we’ve got some fat clues telling us what a COVID-19 winter is like, and when it might crest. It does seem obvious now that this is a seasonal disease.

Australia’s winter is over, because they’re in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s late spring there, and they’re in the clear now, well past the second wave. Here’s what that looks like:

(from CBC news, https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/australia-covid-19-pandemic-lockdown-1.5813280)

That doesn’t look too bad, but it includes a severe lockdown, and the peak didn’t happen until the equivalent of February, for us. So we might have a long way to go, particularly if we don’t get tough.

India is in the Northern Hemisphere, isn’t doing much locking down, and yet is apparently through the worst nonetheless (daily cases):

https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6

That’s through November 24th, 2020 and shows at least two months of decline. However India’s data can be questioned.

As for the world as a whole, right now, the disease is on the decline at the moment, believe it or not (although lockdowns are on the upswing) (same source):

So now you pays your money and you takes your choice, guessing our future in the developed countries of the Northern Hemisphere. Australia is an island, and cases only really started climbing from very low rates there in the equivalent of our mid-December! COVID-19 daily cases crested there with a hard lockdown and as warmer weather took people outside in our February. India seems to be muddling through but may have citizens whose bodies have experienced many more infections than richer and colder parts of the world (others have hypothesized.)

It’s a good bet that the worst is yet to come for the developed world, and we’ll be in a hard lockdown soon enough. However for the world, and perhaps the Northern Hemisphere (where most of the world’s population is) we’ve probably seen the worst, because developing countries haven’t been able to prevent as many cases as developed countries. My bet: see you in February, given some vaccine distribution (and perhaps other treatments or very fast, cheap testing), or perhaps March or April.

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Russell Irvin Johnston

I've read at least the abstracts of (far) more than 250,000 peer-reviewed medical articles, I studied the history and philosophy of science at University.