by Charlie Clark, March 18, 2020
New analysis by Edge Health 400 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed on the 17th March 2020 in the UK. As the new testing strategy is to "focus on identifying people with the virus in hospital", this suggests around 400 people were admitted to hospital on 17th March with the virus. If Edge Healths modelling is correct (and they are more conservative than the modelling published today by Imperial) we are still at a very early stage of the spread of the virus. The two charts below show reported cases and tests to date (first chart) and where these sit relative to our mitigated scenario modelling (slowed growth and isolating the vulnerable) - the small purple box.
As Edge Health's previous analysis has shown, this (mitigated) scenario would translate into unprecedented demand on hospital and critical care beds. We are now developing our understanding of what this will mean in terms of staffing, oxygen and other requirements, which are equally likely to become bottlenecks.
It goes without saying that despite significant measures outlined by the Government and the NHS, there is a huge amount of work to do to get ready and there is not much time. This needs to happen at a national and local level with good coordination, so that efforts translate into better outcomes.
There is some hope from Italy, who has seen deaths declining consistently for the last three days:
15/03: 368 deaths 16/03: 349 deaths 17/03: 345 deaths This suggests that the mitigations they put in place in early March have had an impact on the growth of infections, particularly given the situation with their bed capacity. So very similar to what has "worked" in China.
While there is a long way to go, there is some emerging clarity on what needs to be done to minimise mortality - mitigate growth as much as possible, build as much capacity as possible. Both need to happen as soon as possible and with effort from everyone. Pace does not mean panic.
The other question on everyone's minds is how to ensure businesses can return to normal as quickly as possible.