We know exactly what is going to happen

The growth of Coronavirus is unpredictable, right? Wrong. The growth of an uncontrolled Coronavirus epidemic within a country is very predictable, it follows a clear exponential trend. We know what will happen if things continue as they are, and the government has all the statisticians and epidemiologists in the world to tell them this.

There was a king who desired walls for his kingdom. Now in this kingdom, the currency was rice and the most popular game was chess. A master builder came to the king and said that that he could have the walls built quickly. His price was one grain of rice for the first square of the chessboard, two grains for the second, four grains for the third, eight grains for the fourth and so on, each square doubling. The king agreed, thinking he was getting a bargain. He was not getting a bargain, the price was actually 36893488147419103231 grains of rice or nearly 37 quintillion, so the master-builder bankrupted the king and took into his possession the entire kingdom.

The prevalence of the novel Coronavirus increases exponentially, at a rate of roughly ~25% a day in countries where it has not been bought under control. It takes between 3 and 4 days to double in prevalence. The exact details vary from country to country. In Australia for example, it has been obvious that the rate is increasing at a steep exponential since, at the very latest, about the 9th of March.

We know that this process reaches a terrifying point very quickly. At the very latest we knew this when the entire Italian province of Lombardy was put into lockdown. Really we were able to surmise it long before that.

So we know exactly what’s going to happen. In a few weeks all of Australia, America and the UK will be in chaos. I want to be clear, we know this. I think that people look at the constantly changing situation and get the feeling that it’s unpredictable. This is not true, the Coronavirus has almost exactly fit the predictions of an exponential model for weeks now.

We know that locking things down before the situation gets bad will greatly #flattenthecurve, thus saving many lives.

So why haven’t the governments of the US, Australia and the UK(1) put everything in lockdown? Why wait till their hand is forced? Every-day the exponential is allowed to continue at its present rate could cost tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of lives as it becomes harder and harder to “flatten the curve”. There’s even a plausible scenario in which this hesitation kills millions in the US.

The leadership of Australia, the UK and America are even now killing unimaginable numbers through their inaction. This is cowardice and myopia at best, prioritising business over lives at worst. After this is all done, they will claim that none of us could have predicted this, that everyone was “blindsided” in the words of President Trump, this is my contribution to showing they are lying. Let this be a testimony that the results of their inaction were foreseen.


(1) This analysis applies to many non-English speaking countries as well, but I have singled out English speaking countries because of our predominant readership.

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