The Corona virus is scaling exponentially. This means that the number of people infected grows at a standard rate.  We do not know how many additional people are getting infected every day.  We only have the number of reported cases. The daily growth in reported cases indeed shows a stable (so not declining) rate. This means that the infection keeps accelerating.

At this moment we are looking at an average daily growth rate of 21% in reported cases.

If over the coming days and weeks the current daily growth rate remains unchanged, we can expect truly frightening results. Let’s take the timeframe until April 6, the duration of the current set of measures. Taking a 21% growth rate over these next 16 days (from March 21 until April 6) results in an increase in number of reported cases from currently 2994 cases to 80.000 cases by April 6. That is 80.000 reported cases, so even more people infected.

Daily growth rate of reported Corona cases in NL

If over the coming days and weeks the current daily growth rate remains unchanged, we can expect truly frightening results

If the number of patients hospitalized in Intensive Care were to increase at the same rate, this number would increase from 210 (the amount reported yesterday) to more than 5.000 by April 6. We currently have capacity for only 1.500 patients.  And at this rate, the number of people who would have died from Corona would have increased from currently 136 to about 3000 by April 6.

So, while scientists are working incredibly hard to find a vaccine, and while care workers are caring day and night for patients and while health care institutions are scrambling to increase IC capacity, add equipment and get hold of mouth masks, We – the citizens – all need to work to get this growth rate down.

This is the one metric that matters for us. Let’s immediately and drastically reduce our movements, work from home, regularly wash our hands, and keep a physical distance from each other.  We can track how well we are performing on a daily basis: every day we can check whether the percentage of new reported cases is dropping significantly.

In Italy, the European country the hardest hit by the Corona Virus and in total lockdown, the daily growth rate is only now slowing down to about 12%. If we were to immediately reach this growth rate, by April 6 the expected number of reported cases would be 20.000 instead of 80.000, the number of patients in IC would be 2000, not 5000. The number of deaths 1000 not 3000. I.e., the upward slope of the curve would have flattened significantly.

Let’s hold ourselves and each other accountable to get the growth rate down.  It really matters.

Menno van Dijk

Author Menno van Dijk

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