In my previous post on June 28th, I covered the USA vs. Europe Coronavirus pandemic situations; herd immunity, and the effects of various interventions on it, particularly as envisioned by the Imperial College Covid-19 response team; and the current forecasts for cases and deaths in the UK.
I have now updated the forecasts, as it was apparent that during the month of June, there had been a slight increase in the forecast for UK deaths. Worldometers’ forecast had increased, and also the reported UK numbers were now edging above the forecast in my own model, which had been tracking well as a forecast (if very slightly pessimistically) until the beginning of June.
This might be owing both to informal public relaxation of lockdown behaviour, and also to formal UK Government relaxations in some intervention measures since the end of May.
I have now reforecast my model with a slightly lower intervention effectiveness (83% instead of 83.5% since lockdown on 23rd March), and, while still slightly below reported numbers, it is nearly on track (although with the reporting inaccuracy each weekend, it’s not practical to try to track every change).
My long term outlook for deaths is now for 46,421 instead of 44,397, still below the Worldometers number (which has increased to 47,924 from 43,962).
Here are the comparative charts – first, the reported deaths (the orange curve) vs. modelled deaths (the blue curve), linear axes, as of July 6th.
Comparing this pair of charts, we see that the .5% reduction in lockdown intervention effectiveness (from March 23rd) brings the forecast, the blue curve on the left chart, above the reported orange curve. On the right, the forecast, which had been tracking the reported numbers for a month or more, had started to lag the reported numbers since the beginning of June.
I present below both cumulative and daily numbers of deaths, reported vs. forecast, with log y-axis. The scatter in the daily reported numbers (orange dots) is because of inconsistencies in reporting at weekends, recovered during each following week.
UK deaths, reported vs. model, 83%, cumulative/daily, to 30th September 2020 UK deaths, reported vs. model, 83.5%, cumulative/daily, to 30th September 2020
In this second pair of charts, we can just see that the rate of decline in daily deaths, going forward, is slightly reduced in the 83% chart on the left, compared with the 83.5% on the right.
This means that the projected plateau in modelled deaths, as stated above, is at 46,421 instead of 44,397 in my modelled data from which these charts are drawn.
It also shows that the forecast reduction to single digit (<10) deaths per day is pushed out from 13th August to 20th August, and the forecast rate of fewer than one death per day is delayed from 21st September to 30th September.
ONS & PHE work on trends, and concluding comments
Since the beginning of lockdown relaxations, there has been sharpened scrutiny of the case and death numbers. This monitoring continues with the latest announcements by the UK Government, taking effect from early July (with any accompanying responses to follow from the three UK devolved administrations).
The Office for National Statistics has been monitoring cases and deaths rates, of course, and the flattening of the infections and deaths reductions has been reported in the press recently.
As the article says, any movement would firstly be in the daily number of cases, with any potential change in the deaths rate following a couple of weeks after (owing to the Covid-19 disease duration).
Source data for the reported infection rate is on the following ONS chart (Figure 6 on their page), where the latest exploratory modelling, by ONS research partners at the University of Oxford, shows the incidence rate appears to have decreased between mid-May and early June, but has since levelled off.
The death rate trend can be seen in the daily and 7-day average trend charts, with data from Public Health England.
The ONS is also tracking Excess deaths, and it seems that the Excess deaths in 2020 in England & Wales have reduced to below the five-year average for the second consecutive week.
The figures can be seen in the spreadsheet here, downloaded from the ONS page. The following chart appears there as Figure 1, also showing that the number of deaths involving Covid-19 decreased for the 10th consecutive week.
There are warnings, however, also reported by The Times, that there may be increased mortality from other diseases (such as cancer) into 2021 because worries about the pandemic haves led to changes in patterns of use of the NHS, including GPs, with fewer people risking trips to hospital for diagnosis and/or treatment. The report referred to below from Data-can.org.uk highlights this
I will make any adjustments to the rate of change as we go forward, but thankfully daily numbers are just reducing at the moment in the UK, and I hope that this continues.