I have been fascinated with the spread of the coronavirus and the speed of which it has spread to all parts of the world. The question is how bad will it be, how many will die, and what can be done about it. Thanks to the ability to test who are having it, and who will get it, and how many have already died from it, and how many are still in critical care we can now estimate how bad it can be in countries with a good healthcare system, the Nordic Countries will serve as an example.
Let us begin with Sweden. They took a passive approach at first, the healthcare system will take care of the cases as they have always handled the flue. The problem is, that left to itself the coronavirus cases double every 3 days until the whole population is infected except for those with natural immunity. A few days ago even Sweden clamped down and is now implementing separation. Here are the current numbers for Sweden, normalized per million inhabitants
Cases 704, serious or critical 60, deaths 47, testing 0.36%
Denmark took a similar approach, and here are the
Cases 808, serious or critical 48, deaths 32, testing 0.92%
We can see testing makes a difference, cases go up, deaths go down
Finland is very similar, but cases started later:
Cases 393, serious or critical 35, deaths 5, testing 0.6%
Norway took a different approach, they applied early testing, and tracing and testing their contacts. Here are these results:
Cases 1082, serious or critical 16, deaths 14, testing 2.5%.
Going west there is the Faeroe Islands with little more than 50000 inhabitants:
Cases 3745, serious or critical 20, deaths 0, testing 10.2%.
Wow! No deaths at all! But the sample was small.
Of particular interest is Iceland. It is a unique country. Not only do they have excellent health care, they have the DNA genome of nearly every Icelander. They did a very aggressive testing, and here are the results so far:
Cases 4577, serious or critical 4, deaths 18, testing 8.2%.
It turns out that about half of those who tested positive had no symptoms, but were probably carriers. This leads us to the conclusion that testing is important, social separation only works if everyone participates, and if the country has an excellent health care system the total cases will be 5,6% of which 2.8% show no symptoms, critical or serious cases are 0.25%, and deaths are 0.3% of the whole population.
In a country like United States this means that we will have about 80000 deaths total if we test like Norway or Iceland from now on, and about 210000 deaths if we continue with only mitigation and no contact tracing, and let the disease work itself through the whole population.
The lesson from Spain, Italy and Franceis; if the hospitals get overloaded it could be far worse.
The generic drug Hydroxychloroquine combined with one more generic drug could lower those numbers substantially if taken voluntarily by a majority of early diagnosed patients, and even if taken later in the course of the disease. Of course there will always be some that would rather die than taking something that has been recommended by President Trump, but we are a free country, and there should be enough ventilators for them.
Enough people are taking the medicine cocktail now on a right to try basis to give us the answer in about two weeks if we can go back to work and back to normal life, but with changed social separation. The regular flu and pneumonia deaths are way down already.