Contributors: Anirban Saha, Chirag Mandal, Indranil Maji.
In the previous blog post, we explored the data related to covid19 infected cases in Saxony-Anhalt with respect to the rest of Germany. While the data recorded for Saxony-Anhalt shows a little comforting trend albeit with its fewer numbers, exploring the numbers for Germany, as a whole, is slightly discomforting.
Sayon Saha (data scientist, Trivago) in his blog post posed a question: “Is Germany enforcing enough laws? Crossing 10,000 exponentially?” And my friend asked, “Why not compare the trend with that of Italy?” What that conversation led to, is a tale of serious concern. As we write this blog post, we received the news of a nationwide pseudo-lock-down in Germany.
Be aware that there are more layers to reading just data and there would be questions. As a student of data science, I am heavily depending on the data available on sites like Worldometer and Berlin MorgenPost, and this is a simplistic representation. The scope of this blog post is limited to comprehending data at the national level.
Comparing the growth of the number of covid19 infected people
Graph 1 shows the growth of the number of cases of Covid19 infected persons in the countries of Italy, Spain, and China. While Germany touched 15,000 cases on 19.03.2020, Italy, Spain, and China touched the mark on 12.03.2020, 17.03.2020 and 01.02.2020 respectively. The growths are very similar in nature with similar Growth Factor. A “Growth Factor” is an indicator of how soon the growth might slow down. Once it stabilizes at 1, that can be considered as the inflection point and after that, a consistent slowdown can be expected.
However, the Growth Factor in Germany does not seem to promise that any time soon. Graph 2 compares the Growth Factor between the countries, while Graph 3 shows the Growth Factor of Covid19 infected cases in Germany since the start of the Covid times.
It is wise to assume, for now, that the numbers from Germany would only increase. But to say that it is going to be next Italy would be naive and shouldn’t be done as of now. “Italy” is a term that symbolizes death and catastrophe during the Covid times. And the number of deaths in Germany due to Coronavirus has been very low. That keeps our hopes alive for now.
While there can be a similarity in the growth of numbers between Germany and other countries we compared it with, there is more to it. The spread of the Covid infection depends on societal factors and policy decisions, whereas the fatality of it depends on the age of the patients and the health infrastructure of the other factors. In the following section we would list down the policy measures taken by the German Government in the last week:
- 16.03.2020: Partially closed borders with neighbors (France, Austria, Luxembourg & Denmark)
- 17.03.2020: Gatherings with over 50 expected participants were prohibited. Thus the clubs, discos, trade fairs, exhibitions, concerts, to mention a few, were canceled.
- 19.03.2020: Holiday homes, hostels, hotels to not accept foreign tourists.
- 21.03.2020: States of Saarland and Bavaria instituted a lockdown.
- 23.03.2020: Gathering of more than two is not permitted, people are expected to get out of their home if and only if it is very required.
One might argue that the policies came a little late. But in a democracy like that of Germany, people are taken into confidence through dialogue, information exchange, awareness creation and convincing, rather than imposing. Virtuous, but it makes the process a little slow.
We are a democracy. We thrive not because we are forced to do something, but because we share knowledge and encourage active participation. This is a historic task, and it can only be mastered if we face it together.Federal Chancellor Merkel [Link to address]
While the policies might not be able to contain the numbers in the immediate future, it’s infrastructure can. In the following paragraph, what we try to explore and present is a correlation study between 26 countries and their related statistics.
Infrastructure is the key.
We selected the 26 countries affected by Covid19 infections and has the highest number of deaths, and tried comparing them in a table. If you would be interested to see the data table, click on the button below.
We tried to relate the already existing infrastructure with the number of infected cases and the deaths. Since the fatality rate of Covid19 infected patients is higher for old people, we wanted to compare with the median age of the country as well.
We oversimplified and chose parameters that are indicative of what they represent and are intuitive. We took the number of hospital beds per 1000 residents (infrastructure) (HB), infected cases per 1 million population (spread of infection) (Cases/M), median age (age of the population), death/1000 cases (health care system)(Deaths/T).
We broke the values corresponding to each of the parameters into five categories: Very Low to Very High and marked them with a darker shade of green to the darker shade of red denoting what’s most desirable to what’s least.
Based on the data we currently have, we have the following observations:
- Better existing infrastructure (HB), more or less corresponds to lesser Deaths/T. (There are exceptions to this statement.)
- Higher spread across the population (cases/M) correlates with a higher median age of the population. This might suggest that the older the population, the more easily this disease spreads.
- Countries with a very old population are more likely to have more Deaths/T; unless they have very good infrastructure.
However, we need to mention that when a young person contracts Coronavirus, s/he can exhibit very mild symptoms for some time and thus not be recorded data.
So yea, although the spread of the Covid19 infection has been high due to a range of parameters like delay in policymaking and/or an aging population, the strength of Germany might just be in its robust and sure infrastructure. But this too shall have a counter-argument, for example: How long can the existing infrastructure sustain? Especially when not all states have an equal spread of the infection. With an exponential increase of this rate, the health infrastructure would, in theory, get saturated for specific states. Germany is giving it’s best efforts to ramp up the infrastructure. But that’s another story!
While the growth of the number of cases is worrisome, we might not want to jump to any conclusion at this moment. The infrastructure and preparedness remain the backbone of Germany and might prevent it from becoming the next Italy. However, this one week (starting 23.03.2020) would be very crucial.