Covid-19 cases may have reached peak in Italy while US and UK will see the worst yet

GlobalData Healthcare 9 April 2020 (Last Updated April 9th, 2020 09:32)

Covid-19 cases may have reached peak in Italy while US and UK will see the worst yet

In three key markets most heavily affected by Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, GlobalData updated the three-scenario risk of transmission forecast model using the most recent historical Covid-19 data from the Johns Hopkins Covid-19 Database and the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Covid-19 situation reports. The updated model extended the timeline of the forecast to the next two months to include peak and recovery estimates. Based on the model, Italy appears to have reached a plateau in the number of new cases of Covid-19 in the past week, but the US and the UK have yet to reach the peak. Nonetheless, none of the countries are near to being done with the pandemic. GlobalData estimates that it will take an additional one- to two-month time of continued strict social distancing efforts post peak before new cases will decrease to near zero.

GlobalData estimates that Italy (Figure 1) has reached the peak of its transmission curve, reporting average daily new cases of around 1,000 cases lower in the past seven days than the seven days prior, which was the highest reported so far in the country, with an average of 5,500 daily cases. Given Italy’s intense transmission in the early periods and longer time at the peak than the low-transmission model predicts, we may see the recovery phase drag out longer and Italy will not be able to return to normal until mid- to late May, with total confirmed cases possibly reaching more than 200,000.

The US has yet to enact nationwide lock-down orders and improved testing is patchy. The country has seen transmission trending along the moderate transmission risk (Figure 2) and expected to reach peak towards the end of April. We expect countries trending along this line to not be able to return to normal until the beginning of June, with total confirmed cases possibly reaching more than two million. Even though the UK was widely criticized for delaying action against Covid-19, it is trending at the low transmission risk scenario (Figure 3). We have yet to see signs of the UK reaching its peak and can expect continued increase in daily new cases for the next two weeks.

The forecast scenarios’ peak and recovery phases are based on the assumption that governments will continue to enforce strict social-distancing measures. If these measures are lifted too early, we could very easily see a second wave of exponential increase in cases. South Korea is a very good example of this situation. Even though South Korea had controlled the outbreak within the country very quickly, reaching the peak and recovering within three weeks, they have since seen several small peaks of new cases, mostly from travelers. Even though the surges have been relatively small, no more than 200 cases each time, the country must remain vigilant and be prepared to shut down gatherings in response to surges.

The accuracy of the scenarios is dependent on the accuracy of historical data, which for a newly emerged disease such as Covid-19 have serious data limitations. Limitations include but are not limited to accuracy of testing, testing availability, testing speed, speed of reporting, and accuracy of reporting. GlobalData will continue to monitor developments and will improve the model when more data are available.