I am collecting here some science- and data-based information and links, in an eclectic rather than systematic manner, on various aspects of the Coronavirus situation, including its transmission and impact. My thesis is that if political leaders, as well as ordinary people, will only heed the actual data and science, they can make the wisest decisions regarding public safety and in achieving effective social/economic normalcy. Science does not dictate policy–that requires human judgment, but sound judgment needs good facts.
I will continue to update the site. Newest updates are at the top, oldest at the bottom. A number of data sources are near the bottom.
July 27, 2021. Update on the rapid increase in cases in Fairfax County VA during July 2021. An exponential growth model with a 7-day doubling time explains the increase. This suggests that extra caution is now needed to prevent explosive growth to new pandemic levels among the unvaccinated? Time will tell. Note the important Addendum for July 31 at the end.
July 26, 2021. Informative NY Times podcast with transcript on breakthrough infections of the Delta variant among the vaccinated.
June 13, 2021. Update to show the dramatic impact of vaccines in decreasing cases and nearly eliminating COVID-19 in Fairfax County VA.
March 19, 2021. I have developed a model for understanding the cases, hospitalization, and death rates for COVID-19 in Fairfax County VA. The model accounts for cases which were undercounted in the early stage of the pandemic and indicates a hospitalization rate of around 1 in 33 cases and a death rate of around 1 in 200 cases based on a year of published data for Fairfax County.
Jan. 14, 2021. I have been inactive on this site since August. Here is an update using data from Fairfax County VA to update my analysis from last May concerning the case fatality rate relative to the seasonal flu. Fairfax County data indicate that overall COVID-19 is around 5 to 10 times more deadly that the seasonal flu, consistent with data from CDC.
Aug. 20. This site, in conjunction with Stanford and Georgetown Universities, provides real-time data and local infection rates (R-values) based on one of the leading epidemiological models of COVID-19.
Aug. 17. NY Times article about how some studies are indicating that “herd immunity” to the Coronavirus may require lower numbers of immune people (40 to 50 percent) than previously thought (70 to 80 percent).
Aug. 16. NY Times article about how immunity to the Coronavirus may last longer than scientists has previously thought. Even mildly symptomatic cases may confer immunity.
Aug. 13. Open article from the Wall Street Journal on how soon there will be a vaccine, and related questions.
Aug. 13. A long list of Coronavirus research, commentary, and news articles from the AAAS Science web site.
Another medical study from the University of Florida that supports the hypothesis that airborne transmission is a likely mechanism of disease transmission, consistent with other studies linked below.
This article explains how 6 health professionals respond personally to various everyday circumstances to keep safe from becoming infected.
Article (technical) from the APS Forum on Physics and Society on mathematical models of epidemic spreading.
Wall Street Journal article (open) on the effectiveness of wearing masks and why they are controversial.
Article on how deadly is the coronavirus, indicating a fatality rate in the range of 1 percent.
Article where 239 scientists criticize the WHO for not adequately recognizing the role of airborne transmission of COVID.
Article in The Lancet showing that ventilated rooms have a much shorter half-life for the persistence of small aerosol particles such as those believed to be involved in COVID transmission.
PNAS study indicating the significance of airborne transmission of COVID and the effectiveness of face masks in combatting the spread of the pandemic.
An important article in Nature demonstrating the effectiveness of lockdown interventions in 11 European countries to dramatically reduce the number of COVID deaths in Europe, likely preventing around 3 million deaths and effectively containing the pandemic (link to pdf of article).
Oxford study shows dexamethasone is effective in treating severe cases.
A study in Nature Medicine shows that children are only half as likely to get coronavirus.
A new release of CDC data shows that patients with underlying conditions are 12 times as likely to die from coronavirus as those without.
March to May 2020
May 28: The Economist assesses that the USA is responding in a way comparable to Europe and that its diversity of local responses may in the end be a strength of the American system.
Here are two articles making compelling scientific cases for the efficacy of mask-wearing in public: from The Conversation and from The Economist. I thoroughly endorse this sound practice, especially given the scientific study in the PNAS of droplet transmission in the May 15 link.
May 15, This article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, using measurements of laser light scattering by small particles, concludes that “there is a substantial probability that normal speaking causes airborne virus transmission in confined environments.” A less technical news article discusses this study. To my thinking, this science-based study is a good plank in building the case for using face masks in public, and whenever anyone having the disease is present in social situations.
May 15, This article gives data concerning Sweden, which used a far less severe lockdown that its neighboring countries. This additional article is by someone who lives in Sweden and appreciates its more moderate approach; The Economist also offers a similar assessment. On the other hand, the number of excess deaths in the past 2 months was dramatically higher in Sweden (27 percent) compared to its neighbors with stronger restrictions, Norway, Denmark, and Finland (zero, 5, and zero percent, respectively); the overall fatality rate, as well as the total number of cases in Sweden, are both much higher than for its 3 neighbors–the detailed data are available here. The total number of cases also tends to be lower in the Nordic countries than many other European ones, likely because of a lower population and population density, and because most people there, even in Sweden, follow common-sense scientific guidelines to slow the spread (as demonstrated by cell phone tracking data).
Here is my answer explaining to someone why the data in Virginia on Covid and the seasonal flu demonstrate clearly that Covid is far more deadly and dangerous than the seasonal flu.
NIH Covid information site, including access to a blog by Francis Collins.
This article from the new data-science journal Patterns makes good points about the need for good high-quality data in fighting this pandemic. The article makes the following valid point: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that all models are wrong but some are useful. Data science is needed to not only develop the models but also to determine in which ways they’re wrong and which ways they’re useful because the results of these models will inform, along with data, the decisions that are made to combat the spread of this pandemic.” See my comment on the article here.
It is important to establish the extent of asymptomatic transmission; the facts are not yet fully established (it is likely–yes–but there is quantitative uncertainty).
Nature Medicine paper based on a limited study from China, indicating a high asymptomatic transmission rate of 44%.
Critique by Science Magazine indicating an early German study was flawed.
It is important to have the facts about asymptomatic and uncounted cases, since there may be many more cases than have been officially counted, implying a lower fatality rate. This is one of the biggest data gaps at the present time, and it needs to be filled.
Papers and data related to the efficacy of face masks (yes, the medical/scientific evidence supports that they are effective):
A Preprint (under peer-review) giving evidence in favor of masks.
A promotional web site with much information.
This chart from a medical preprint, described in this article, indicates that if 60 percent of the people wore masks in public that are 60 percent effective, the epidemic would be controlled.
This Italian newspaper article (use the Google Translate feature to translate it to English) describes a successful home intervention approach used in Piacenza, Italy. A similar approach was used in Germany and may have helped keep the German fatality rate among the lowest in Europe (below 5 percent of cases).
Other sources of data:
Statista.com is pretty complete, with links to more.
The New York Times has detailed graphics for the USA and other countries.
Another source of world and USA data is 1Point3Acres.
Ap. 17, from Nature, the journal, new data from China increasing their death statistics. Also, information on symptoms.
March 24: Our most challenging problem: to understand the complexity of the situation. It is related to the science of nonlinear dynamics in complex interacting systems and requires thinking nonlinearly to deal with.
(early March) Not so good news: currently (early March) the USA death rate (updated daily) is such that the number of deaths, mostly from New York, is doubling every 2 to 3 days. On the other hand the State of Washington (early March) has dropped the doubling time to over a week. That makes an enormous difference over time.
Some good news: 4 drugs being tested for treatment.
Realism and hope from someone who should know. Flatten the curve and get to a better place with more people alive.
A good source of detailed real-time daily data from the US and for each state is from Worldometer.
There is also Worldometer data for all the countries in the world. Interestingly, Germany seems to be doing much better in keeping patients alive than its neighbors Italy, France, and Spain, although it has a comparable number of cases.
Some informative websites
COVID ActNow site–risk and vaccination status for every state and county in America
New York Times detailed daily data and maps for the USA and the world. Excellent!
Virginia Department of Health (VDH) COVID site. Click on Locality for data for every county in Virginia
Information from the Federation of American Scientists (a public policy group).