COVID-19 Milestones

Friends, allow me to highlight three upcoming COVID milestones.


  • First the positive: Tomorrow I will receive my first shot of vaccine. Hurray!
  • Second, and more tragically, tomorrow or Saturday will mark the date on which the death toll from the second wave will reach 82,732 which is double the death toll from the first wave. Words fail me.
  • Thirdly, Monday will mark the re-opening of schools. And two weeks later we will be able to see the effect on the rates of COVID cases.

Intriguingly, the populations who will be mixing (directly or indirectly) after schools re-open – parents, teachers, and children – will be mainly unvaccinated. But the most vulnerable people will be mainly vaccinated.

Measuring the resultant extra cases and the way they feed through to hospital admissions and deaths will likely be critical to the development of the Government’s ‘re-opening’ strategy.

Update on Cases

As I am sure you know the data are looking good – the daily rate of positive tests for COVID-19 is falling with a halving-time which may be even less than 16 days.

Click for a larger version.

The number of positive cases per day is shown above on a linear scale. The red dotted curve shows the rate at which cases fell after the first lockdown.

One can see that just over two weeks ago (~day 410) the rate at which the cases were falling reduced, but the rate of decrease now appears to be even faster than before – but we only have a few days data.

It is easier to see the trends if the data is plotted on a graph with a logarithmic vertical axis. On this graph (below) exponential trends show up as straight lines.

Extrapolating the trend of the last few days, we might hope for around 1000 cases per day by Easter (4th April). At that level, track, trace, support and isolate really should – after a year of utter failure – be able to cope.

However, we should more reasonably expect the rate at which cases are falling to slow (to some extent) after the schools re-open.

Click for a larger version.

Update on Hospital Admissions

The rate at which people are admitted to hospital is also falling, but unfortunately the data file of the ‘dashboard’ website is corrupted.

As you can see in the screenshot below for today 4th March 2021, the daily figure is 757. But in the data file, this figure is recorded as being appropriate to the 28th February. So using the data file would lead one to think that cases were falling more rapidly than they are.

Click for a larger version.

Using daily figures as they were reported, I find that hospital admissions are falling with a halving time of 21 days – surprisingly the same as after the first lockdown.

However the recent daily admissions data looks to have ‘steps’ in it – and given the errors above – it may not be reliable.

Click for a larger version.

Update on Deaths 

The rate at which people are dying from COVID is falling, faster and faster.

The figure below shows that after falling with an initial halving-time of about 16-days (orange dotted curve), daily deaths are now falling even faster.

The difference between the extrapolated 16-day halving time trend and the actual data is shaded in pink.

This is almost certainly the vaccine taking effect.

Click for a larger version.

Also shown in blue is percentage of the entire UK population (adults and children) who have received a first dose of vaccine.

The rate appears to have slowed a little in the last week or so – presumably as second-doses are prioritised.

Nonetheless, the rate is impressive: roughly 50% of the population will have received a first shot of vaccine by Easter.


So here we are… in the sad shadow of a gigantic second wave of deaths.

But with a little luck, the army of elderly vaccine gladiators which I will join tomorrow will vanquish the Covidian contagion before it can mutate.

Death to the Covidians!

6 Responses to “COVID-19 Milestones”

  1. 171indianroad Says:

    I think there may be a typo???


    • protonsforbreakfast Says:

      Typo: Quite possibly – I have just drunk three glasses of wine!

      But can you give me a clue what it is?

  2. mesnilman Says:

    Good news on you having your first dose, Michael!

    All the very best, Chris.

  3. nathanielhelminiak Says:

    Dear Michael,

    I am a graduate student studying condensed matter and purchased your book. While trying out one of the exercises on cohesive energy I noted that I could download addition resources online! Are these still available?

    On another note, a large number of material constants are given within your publication but I am unsure of there origin; barring acknowledgement based speculation… I might like to use numbers such as CL and CS sound speeds to derive elastics constants to use in research. The majority of the numbers in your book seem to be reasonable when compared to other sources and against the few points of comparison I have done in the lab. Is your book citable for scientific purposes?

    Thanks for the book, I might have to start reading your blog too.


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