COVID 19 Wave#3: How is it going?

Click for a larger image. Logarithmic graph showing positive caseshospital admissions and deaths since the start of the pandemic. The blue arrows show the dates of recent ‘opening’ events. See text for further details. The green dotted line shows an extrapolation from the first week of June.

Friends, I last wrote about the pandemic almost a month ago on 29th June 2021. There I quoted myself from 4th June as saying that

I don’t think [Wave#3] can kill ‘hundreds of thousands’, but it could easily kill ‘thousands‘ and cause serious illness in many more.

I estimated that

by the end of June we would exceed 10,000 new cases per day and approach 40,000 per day at the end of the school term“.

I then pointed out that aside from more death and serious illness and we would be rolling the variant dice. I then concluded:

“the recommendations [on what to do] were … obvious, but that writing them down was pointless, because the Government just doesn’t care!


Today (26th July) I see that at the start of July cases exceeded my estimates. Using a retrospective 7 day average cases peaked on 21st July with 47,000 cases per day.

But since then, the number of positive cases has been falling.

Click for a larger image. Logarithmic graph showing positive cases since the start of the 2021. The blue arrows show the dates of recent ‘opening’ events. See text for further details. The green dotted line shows an extrapolation from the first week of June.

Daily hospitalisations and deaths have continued to rise, but if this data really indicates a meaningful decline in viral transmission, then they too will peak shortly.

I am puzzled.

This is great news, but it is not what I expected. And it lifts my spirits to know that something – anything – appears to be spontaneously improving!

Sudden changes in number of daily cases like this have previously coincided with distinct changes in behaviour: lockdowns or similar. But this recent fall coincided with the calendar date of the nominal ending of pandemic restrictions!

The cause of this change in the trend of the number of daily cases would have happened a few days prior to that. But what could that cause be?  Well I don’t know, but here are six thoughts.

  • Thought#1: Could we have reached something close to herd immunity? At least in the key groups amongst whom the pandemic is spreading. I don’t think this is the case, because if it were, I would have expected a much more gradual change in the number of daily infections.
  • Thought#2: Could this be an effect of the ‘pingdemic’? After such a pedigree of failure, could it be possible that the number of people requested to isolate has become so large that viral transmission is really being restricted? Well it ought to be having some effect, but again I would not have expected such a sharp change.
  • Thought#3: Could a substantial part of the rise have arisen during the Euro 2020 matches? The final was on July 11th and so we might perhaps expect that cases arising from that might peak about a week later (July 18th) and then decline sharply.
  • Thought#4: Could it be something to do with the hot weather?
  • Thought#5: Could it be something to do with changes in Schools?
  • Thought#6: Could it be that people are avoiding taking a test even if they think they might be ill? Since all retractions have (nominally) been lifted, perhaps people’s sense of civic duty has changed?

Or could it be some combination of these things?

What next?

It is worth pointing out that the number of daily cases is still high based either on either an international or a historical comparison. So the UK part of the pandemic is not over, and there is a continuing risk of new variants. And a continuing threat to the millions of immuno-compromised people.

But this decline in daily cases is really welcome. However since I don’t know why it has happened I can’t really imagine what will happen next.

If I had to guess, I think I would expect the rapid decline to be temporary. I think daily cases  will fall to a still high level, perhaps a 10,000 cases per day, but hopefully less. And then I would expect daily cases to either increase again or decrease, but much more gradually. But that is just a guess.

So in the coming weeks I will be looking to see if the hospitalisations and deaths show the same peak in  cases, and then trying to discern the ongoing trend in cases.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy summer (or winter) safely wherever you are.

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