Apr 29: Good — nay, Great — Day
I’ve been tracking the number of deaths which is a lagging indicator. Let’s look at Ontario and how it's doing in terms of active rates.
Some background: the key to eliminate the virus in any jurisdiction is to make R-naught (R0) drop below 1. That means one infected person infects fewer than one person.
Guess what R0 is for Ontario now? One! That’s right, at this point, one infected person in Ontario only infects one more person.
That’s a massive accomplishment, especially considering this number went as high as 5 in other areas. Bringing R0 down to 1 is a huge accomplishment and indicates how close we are to taking it below 1.
Let’s do more good news: On April 22nd, Ontario confirmed 510 new cases that day. On April 23rd, Ontario confirmed 634 cases. A day later, it confirmed 640. That number today dropped to only 347, the lowest in a long time.
85% of all COVID-19 deaths in Ontario have been in long-term care or retirement homes. While that is heartbreaking on one hand, it does indicate that our colossus efforts truly prevented what could have been a disaster in the community from becoming an issue.
This is where cynics and conspiracy theorists start saying “look, I told you there wasn’t an issue”. Please point them to the UK and the USA (and Italy and Spain and France) to show how it got bad despite lockdowns only because those countries hesitated just a little before locking down.
Let’s talk about deaths now.
Quebec reported 79 deaths today (down from 83 yesterday). Ontario reported 45 (down from 59 yesterday). The rest of Canada only reported 1 death today.
It seems like the rest of Canada has really controlled the situation. Ontario and Quebec have pretty much restricted the crises to long-term care homes.
Ontario has 977 people hospitalized, out of which 235 are in ICU, out of which 186 are on a ventilator. Quebec has 1,648 individuals that are hospitalized, out of which 222 are in ICU. Both provinces, clearly, have the capacity to handle the current situation very comfortably.
Our deaths will continue to go up for the next few days due to the current outbreaks in some longterm care homes. However, the total number of daily deaths has been stable. There’s indication that Ontario will report at least 49 additional deaths tomorrow (deaths that are recorded in public health units today after Ontario tallied the numbers). However, it is really important to not be discouraged by the steady number of daily deaths. It is important to draw the right conclusion: the fact that the number of deaths is not rising indicates that we’ve controlled the spread.
This also collaborates with the previous data. R0 of 1 implies a state where you have the same number of cases (and therefore, the same number of deaths).
All in all, unless something goes wrong or people just give up and start gathering in crowds, we are about to make R0 < 1. In laymen’s terms, that means we are about to start decreasing active rates in the community until it goes down to zero.
Let’s talk about other countries that messed up! Let’s consider the UK.
Some readers have brought up Sweden and how they chose to not go for a full-on lockdown to develop a herd immunity. The United Kingdom tried the same approach.
UK Financial Times estimated that COVID-19 deaths in the UK are more than twice what the government is reporting. However, even with those underreported numbers, the UK will become the worst-hit country in Europe tomorrow in terms of the number of deaths. And that is after they realized the error in trying to avoid a lockdown and locked down the country.
Sweden is a small, homogenous nation with a very different culture where more than half of households are already single-person households and the culture has a high sense of personal space. Still, they have a significantly higher number of deaths than their neighbours.
The United States is another cluster — you know what. The lack of a cohesive national strategy is baffling. It’s no surprise that the United States now has more COVID-19 deaths than it had Vietnam deaths.
According to the official numbers, the United States has lost over 61,500 people to COVID-19. It still reports > 2,000 deaths a day.
Back to Canada.
I had predicted Canada would cross 3,000 deaths on April 30th. Yesterday I changed that thinking we’d hit 3,000 today. We came just under, we are at 2,985 deaths.
Still, we kicked ass. The rest of Canada (other than Ontario and Quebec) escaped the worst because the country locked down. Quebec suffered because they had their March break before the lockdown. While Ontario’s March break was also before the lockdown, many people canceled their trips anyway. Still, both provinces handled the situation better than the best-case scenario.
This deserves repeating. We did better than we thought we were going to do under even the best-case modeling.