ANOTHER day, another set of gloomy figures. The UK recorded another 115 coronavirus-related deaths, Spain a hideous 498, Italy a horrendous 712.
I don’t mean to downplay the tragedy for the people who died and the families of those who have lost loved ones, but the figures are actually mildly encouraging. All show that the spread of the virus is no longer following the kind of geometric growth rates that from this point onwards, for Italy and Spain especially, would very soon mount up to daily death counts in the several thousands or tens of thousands. If you hit that sort of rate, then even if the curve starts to flatten then you are talking about perhaps several hundred thousand deaths. Any worse still and you are surely looking at complete societal breakdown.
The key to interpreting any graph of infections of deaths with this pandemic is always to look at the type of scale used on the Y axis of the graph – is it linear or log? This site very helpfully does both.
My advice is to pay less attention to any graph showing a linear scale; it may look scary but if you have a straight line, as long as it isn’t nearly vertical, you merely have an arithmetic progression (eg day 1: three cases; day 2: six cases; day 3: nine cases and so on).
The one to watch is the log graph, which gives the rate of acceleration of the disease. A straight line with any kind of gradient on a log graph and you’ve got very serious problems, as it shows a geometric progression (eg day 1: three cases; day 2: nine cases; day 3: 27 cases and so on).
Thankfully for all three countries, although the daily totals are still edging up, the curve is plainly flattening. For example, you can compare the linear and log scale for Italy here.
It may still be a nightmare, but a nightmare is less than an absolute catastrophe.