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COVID-19 is spreading – How to bound the downside

COVID-19 is spreading – How to bound the downside
13 Mar 2020

Trent McConaghy is a data and statistical modeling expert. Alarmed at the exponential spread of COVID-19, Trent became concerned that if the virus followed the same trajectory as in Wuhan and Lombardy - other cities would be similarly overwhelmed. Trent created a model to answer the question - how long before hospital capacity gets overwhelmed; at which point the death rate jumps? The focus of the modeling is on the two hot zones of the U.S. and Germany: Washington state (WA) and Berlin. According to the model WA will hit capacity by March 25, and Berlin by April 5.

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Trent McConaghy

Why you should listen:

There are things we can do now, as citizens, organizations and governments, to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to bound the downside. If we don’t, the downside could be severe. Trent has a PhD in EE from KU Leuven, Belgium. He undertook machine learning research for the Canadian Department of National Defense. He is the founder of Ocean Protocol, a decentralized data marketplace.

COVID-19 is a Black Swan. It’s gone from highly unlikely, to likely, to happening. No one has perfect models of how it will unfold, exactly. But, we can identify possible worst-case scenarios and take action to minimize the negative impacts if those scenarios do occur. The most rational thing that we can do is to bound the downside.

Key takeaway:

The virus will not hit nations in a uniformly spread fashion. It will take out one city at a time, not one country at a time. In China, Northern Wuhan was taken out first. In Italy, it was Lombardy, Venice, and Milan. So while we can start with analyses at the national level (USA, Germany), it’s critical to drill into specific hotspots (Washington state, Berlin) which will experience capacity constraints sooner than the national average.

What can be done? For starters, get more beds. Cancel large gatherings, start remote work, and accelerate universal testing. We should act now. We can learn a lot from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.

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Supporting links:

When does hospital capacity get overwhelmed

What we can do about Coronavirus

Systemic Risk of Pandemic via Novel Pathogens

Ocean Protocol

Trent on Twitter

Andy on Twitter

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