People ask me : when will the American coronavirus epidemic peak?
One major reason is a paucity of data, especially testing data. There are many reasons we don’t know what we need to know including: 1. The dismantling of the CDC’s international epidemiology capacity starting in 2017 2. What appears to have been active suppression of data during the early phases of the epidemic – researchers told “not to test” because they were not “certified” labs 3. Constant messaging from the top of the administration that “everything is handled” and there’s “nothing to worry about.” 4. Bungled test kits 5. Active attempts to have leading public health figures get their “messages” controlled by the White House (they did explain they weren’t “muzzled.”) 6. Inability to order necessary reagents and materials for testing 7. Placing the “national campaign” under the direction of a politician who bungled a previous AIDS epidemic 8. Uncertainty over the accuracy and reliability of the different tests used and their clearly unsystematic deployment, etc. These are just a few of the reasons. There are many, many more.
But we do have data, still very imperfect, from other sources. From clear evidence of epidemic to peak new cases appears to have been about 3 weeks in China and South Korea. However, they had nationally coordinated responses which included testing and detention protocols not seen in Western countries. Fortunately, the South Korea data look more reliable than most countries, with testing of about 300,000 so far.
Over a similar period, Italy and Spain are not approaching peak levels, though the logarithmic ascent is slowing. Germany and Britain do not appear to be slowing, yet.
Using these very crude assessments, which don’t include knowledge of how the virus in evolving or how well point outbreaks like those of NYC will be contained (overwhelming the medical care system has a truly negative effect on further infection,) a very, very rough assessment is somewhere between 3 and 8 weeks.
It’s rough enough that we’ll just have to wait and see.
And this is from the first wave of infection. Perhaps as a result of relaxing its guard a bit, South Korea is already seeing a second wave. There will be more. Let’s hope the comedown from peak cases will be faster.