Covid-19 Diary : Saturday 9 May, 2020


May I remind you – if you’ve not already done so, please share your opinion on when things will return to normal, by casting your vote in the reader survey near the top of Friday morning’s newsletter.  This is shaping up to be a fascinating comparison with the same survey done one month before, and the more people who participate, the more meaningful the result.

I was swapping emails with reader Fred on the subject of lockdowns.  He offered up a fascinating pair of charts where he superimposed the new case count and the daily death rates for Sweden and the UK.  The UK has been subject to an intense lockdown, whereas Sweden has no lockdown at all.  The results are astonishingly similar after placing the results on a similar scale.

The most surprising part of this is the way that Sweden’s new case count has stabilized rather than continued to increase.  Is this due to voluntary social distancing?  Probably in some considerable part, yes.

The daily death rate chart also shows a very close correspondence in terms of changes in rates.

But the mystery continues.  Here next is a chart comparing the total deaths of Sweden and Norway, after adjusting for relative population sizes.  Norway has a moderately strict lockdown regime in place.

Norway’s deaths have almost zeroed out.  It had eight deaths in the last week.  Sweden, after adjusting for population, has a comparable count of 277 deaths.  Sure, there are many more variables and issues to consider, but the 35 times greater number of deaths per head of population in Sweden compared to Norway at present seems to clearly suggest – no matter what other factors may also be in play – that social distancing is a practical and beneficial way of limiting infections and deaths.

Oh, and that comparable count of 277 deaths?  Using the same Norway base, the US registers as having 209 deaths.  Which creates a further puzzle.  Norway’s social distancing has reduced the death count to 8 in the last week.  Sweden’s no social distancing has seen 277 deaths.  The US, with social distancing (I know these controls are starting to be lifted, but it will take two weeks or more for that to start to reflect in increased deaths) had not 8 deaths, but 209 deaths, much closer to Sweden’s adjusted count than Norway’s.

What is wrong with our social distancing, or what else is giving us a rate 26 times higher than we should be achieving based on the Norway figure?  One popular solution may be to wear more masks, and that certainly seems beneficial.

And, of course, we again come to the perennial question – with our daily death rate still so extremely high, what the heck are we doing relaxing our restrictions?

Current Numbers

Here are the rankings for the eight states of any size with the highest infection rates.  There have been no changes in ranking today.

  • San Marino/637 cases/the equivalent of 18,773 cases per million people
  • Vatican City/12 cases/14,981 cases per million (unchanged)
  • Andorra/754/9,759
  • Qatar/21,331/7,404
  • Luxembourg/3,877/6,194
  • Spain/262,783/5,620
  • Iceland/1,801/5,278 (unchanged)
  • Ireland/22,760/4,609

Here are the top six major countries, showing death rates per million of population in the country  :

  • Belgium/8,581 deaths/740 deaths per million
  • Spain/26,478 deaths/566 deaths per million
  • Italy/30,395 deaths/503
  • United Kingdom/31,587/465
  • France/26,310/403
  • Netherlands/5,422/316

To put those numbers into context, the death rates per million in the US/Canada are 242/124.  The world average (not a very reliable number) is 36.0.

For major countries and/or outbreaks, and in general :

Same Day
Last Week
Total Cases3,482,8974,009,3374,098,276
Total Deaths244,760275,986280,224
US Cases/Deaths/Case rate per million1,160,774/67,444/35071,321,785/78,615/39931,347,309/80,037/4070
UK Cases/Deaths/Case rate per million182,260/28,131/2685211,364/31,241/3114215,260/31,587/3171
Canada Cases/Deaths/Case rate per million56,714/3,566/150366,434/4,569/176067,702/4,693/1794
Worst affected major country/case rateSpain/5,252Spain/5,563Spain/5,620
Second worst country affectedIreland/4,289Ireland/4,565Ireland/4,609
Third worstBelgium/4,273Belgium/4,488Belgium/4,538

Closings and Openings

Here’s an article by someone who recently endured a flight.  Rather him than me – I’m in no hurry to start flying again.  The article’s title gives a hint as to his experience.  “I Just Flew. It Was Worse Than I Thought It Would Be“.

Meanwhile, Mr Musk continues to be extremely unhappy with not being allowed to re-open his car making factory in Fremont, California.  The inconvenience to Tesla is similar to the inconvenient to many other companies, but he seems to have a louder voice in the press than most.  Unless he has a credible safety plan for his employees, he should just quietly suck it in (through a face mask, ideally).

Logic?  What Logic?

It is generally accepted that the coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China.  Some people therefore identify it as the Wuhan virus or the China/Chinese virus.  There have been other viruses also named after their probable points of origin in the past, so this is not a new thing.  But, China…….

The city of San Antonio has just passed a resolution declaring that the phrase “Chinese virus” is hate speech.  Even more dismaying is that the measure was passed unanimously.

Goodbye, First Amendment.  Hello, nonsensical political correctness.


Yet another item in the “bad news if true” category. As I say every time, this virus just gets worse and worse. It might be the virus is more harmful to younger children than was first thought.

And, for balance, perhaps a “good news if true” item – a three drug cocktail seems to help patients with the Covid-19 disease recover more quickly.

Here is something being presented as good news, but which puzzles me.  Why is it that nearly everyone has antibodies after having contracted and survived the virus?  Why not absolutely everyone?

Note also there is no promise the antibodies will guarantee a person doesn’t get the virus again, and there’s no guarantee that whatever protection is conveyed by the antibodies will be long-lasting.

Here’s an interesting article about the most common mistake people make when wearing a mask.


Maybe I’ve not been paying attention, but while I’ve read of plenty of famous people who have had the Covid-19 disease, I’ve not read of anyone “famous” actually dying of it, until now, and the death of Roy (as in Siegfried and Roy of tiger/Vegas fame).

Please stay happy and healthy; all going well, I’ll be back again tomorrow


Please click here for a listing of all our Covid-19 articles.


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