Covid-19: How is it spreading in your Local Area?
Will it be over by June? Or next year? If you are infected and need help will the healthcare services be ready?
Our mission is to answer questions like these by getting you the reader to do it for yourself using the tools we have created. And we are asking YOU to localise for your area, write your case and send it back to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Right now you can get an idea about what’s happening in four cases by reading this article. You can also take action yourself and localise the tools for your area.
Here is toolkit and instructions you can use now
- For the latest version of the COVID-19 Infection System model (any web browser except Microsoft Edge)
- How to videos
- Model Instructions
- Supporting spreadsheet to collate data inputs for your local area
If you live in Lombardy, Hong Kong, London or New York the case studies give you information about what is happening there and what may happen over the coming weeks and months. Exhibit 1 shows one element common to all: the new Covid-19 cases from official records versus the simulation localised to each city or area:
This type of chart is an example of what you will see if you open the model in each of the case links below. It shows how closely the simulation comes to performing like the historical data.
Comparing and contrasting the cases has led to a number of insights:
- There are remarkable similarities: in each city the same processes are unfolding. The parameter changes required to adapt the model in each case can be counted on one hand. We have created videos and guides to help you determine these.
- There are surprising differences. Despite declared similarities in announcements and enforcement of social distancing, each case is unique, and the characteristics of each case inform the others.
- The future path for each city is remarkably different: Lombardy and London appear to be on a similar future track with a long but eventual path to full immunity. Hong Kong and New York City could not be more different: Hong Kong has avoided much of the problems in other cities so far but it appears to have a serious stored up problem: almost no one is immune and it stays that way without a medical breakthrough. New York City seems to be on a fast track to full immunity.
- We still have much to do to check and re-check everything for the third or fourth time and each time we do that we see something new. We believe these results are robust but we can’t guarantee it. We invite others to check.
Similar charts are in each case model for: Cumulative cases, Active cases, Recoveries and Deaths. Each case is validated against this historical data using a step by step process we have tested with with people who have never used this methodology before.
We will also be shortly adding case studies for Athens, Crete, Greece, Italy, Jakarta, Indonesia and the UK. And others have volunteered to create cases for Dublin and Detroit, Kuwait, Shanghai and Singapore. We are inviting any volunteer to localise elsewhere. Hopefully you will give it a try.
In all of the case studies you will see the publicly available information for Covid-19 and we will explain what that translates to both for tangible (you can see it or feel it) reported information as well as things that are intangible (cannot be directly seen or measured) but also must be happening and can be really important. And you will see charts like Exhibit 2 showing information that is not reported by authorities:
Many are surprised by what Exhibit 2 is showing. Without Social distancing in the UK the infections would be growing very rapidly reaching about 15.6 million infections on 5th April. Today, because there is still no widespread testing we would still only read or hear reports about a tiny fraction, less than one half of one percent of the infections around us. Many are also surprised that the Active Confirmed Cases is such a small number compared to total current infections. This result comes from the data on testing after the outbreak in China. Appendix 1 (to be added) explains why if you want to get some understanding of the methodology.
Why is that intangible information important? Because Covid 19 is highly contagious even when people have no symptoms: it is mostly invisible, literally a stealth killer.
Exhibit 1 is directly from the modelling tool you can use. The tool has been rigorously benchmarked against the Imperial College Study published on 16th March 2020 and uses many inputs and we believe well researched sources. We have incorporated new information every day since and are continuing to do so.
Exhibit 2 above is hypothetical now because the UK implemented social distancing on 23rd March. In the case studies you will see future scenarios based on the information we have collected on social distancing and other initiatives and actions since then.
Points we want you to consider before we get into the cases:
- We are a group of 24 people who have contributed time, personal contacts and we believe the necessary and sufficient multidisciplinary skills to create these tools and make them useful. You must always be mindful that the underlying tool is a model. It is not reality. All models are by definition an abstraction and in that sense they are only an indicative simplification of the real world. This is true of every model ever created by anyone. Even the fundamental laws of physics and chemistry are models and are constantly challenged and improved. We believe the tools we have created are useful. We hope you will take them, use them, and they will be useful to you.
- A roadmap for our next steps will be added shortly in Appendix 2. Please have a look at and let us know if you have suggestions for what we do next.
- Please also get in touch if you have questions, we will do our best to answer them.
- Please share your inputs and results with us if apply the tools to your area.
The Case Studies (click through on the region name to upload the case)
The cases are organised in this order because they have informed one another sequentially:
- Lombardy Case (with link to the model) is first because it is the place where it first became clear that Covid 19 was spreading fast even after China had taken steps to control the spread. The subsequent actions in Lombardy have had measurable impact and have been adopted and localised elsewhere. Lombardy also publishes very detailed information on the progression of Covid-19, making it a sound benchmark for other cases.
- Hong Kong Case is second because it is one of the success stories for containing Covid -19 but even now, despite enforcement of strict social distancing, there is a second outbreak happening and even stricter rules were introduced a few days ago. Hong Kong Model
- London Case (work in progress) is third because it is where many of us live and we are trying to understand what is happening here and we have good access to data and advice. London Model
- New York City Case (work in progress) is fourth because it is tragically a hot spot and one of our team is on the ground there with good access to local information. New York City Model
The co-authors of each case are attributed. We have several other cases in preparation that will be added to this article as soon as they are completed. They are being prepared by members of our team who include scientists, entrepreneurs, business-people, and high school students — one in self-isolation in Hong Kong. We have done this deliberately because we wanted to be sure that almost anyone can use the tools even with limited access to information.
Appendix 1: Documentation of benchmarking against this study by Imperial College. (to be added)
Appendix 2: Detailed comparison of Case Studies Similarities and Differences (to be added)
Acknowledgements: This was a rapidly assembled team effort.
Special thanks to Dr Hans Schepers and Dr Kim Warren for modelling help and all the synthesis and insights.
We are grateful for all the hard work and insight into the localisations by Alvin Cheng and his Nephew Hayden on the Hong Kong Case, Alan Patrick on the London Case and Dr. Glenn Cornett on the New York City Cases and Others working on Cases in process including Markos Glucksman, Dr Pantelis Katharios, Argyaputra Sakti. Each case is shedding new light on the others.
Others providing key inputs to this article: Stephen Allott, Gary Hirsch, Partha Bose, Dr Andreas Coutras, Dr Myron Glucksman, Dr Romi Navaratnam
And again we are really grateful to John Hill and Chris Spencer for creating the Sheetless modelling platform: we have learned how to use so rapidly and now we can seek feedback from anyone, anywhere, for free, on our live model.