It’s really hard to get your head around how fast the Corona Virus is killing people. The reason is we are not used to see death occur at exponential rates. Car crashes, Cancer, Heart Disease — all these things occur at constant rates (up to a few thousand a day). Even wars like Desert Storm have death rates that grow linearly, but never exponentially.
But Corona is different. It follows an exponential curve. In under 2 months it has become the third largest source of death in America. In a few weeks at this rate, more people will die of COVID19 than anything else.
Absent social distancing, I have found a simple formula for how much this Virus kills. Feel free to refer to it as “Krueger’s Law”.
deaths = 10 ^ (days/10)
10 days = 10¹ =10 deaths
20 days = 10² = 100 deaths
30 days = 10³ = 1,000 deaths
40 days = 10⁴ = 10,000 deaths.
We’re closing in on 40 days.
Another 20 days like this 1 million deaths. Social distancing is no joke.
Now deaths are a lagging indicator. It takes 17 days from infection to die. So how about new cases?
New Cases have an inflection point March 26
Up until March 26, New Cases were growing at even faster rate than deaths 10x every 8 days (as opposed to every 10 days). It’s not clear to me why these two growth rates wouldn’t match more precisely. If you have ideas, I am very interested. But it’s clear that on March 26, the data showed a marked shift. This is “social distancing” (as it is practiced in the US) taking effect.
The good news is the new rate is something closer to 10x in 20 days, not 8 days. This should also slow the exponential rise in deaths from 10x in 10 days to 10x a month or so. But its still not enough.
So how many people are really infected?
As I write this, the number of observed cases are 250,000. But remember, we are only testing people who are infected, and symptoms usually take 5 days. Even with the newer slope, this is certainly like 1MM people infected. And it could easily be 3MM, as many people with very mild symptoms or none at all never report.
I’m guessing 1% of Americans have COVID19
A study was concluded in Iceland and they found that also 1% of Icelandic population had the disease. I am relatively sure that number is not 10% for the US, and is not 0.1%. 1% is accurate (in my opinion) to within 1 order of magnitude.
Whats at stake in the next 20 days?
The question now is does this 1% go to 10% of the population. I am pretty sure, baring no changes, that is where we are headed. If so, we are likely to have close to 1 million deaths. The stakes are enormous.