Into The Numbers

February 10, 2020 8:11 p.m.

Like many of you I’ve been keeping tabs on the news of the novel Coronavirus in China. I’ve been using the Times as my go to source. They have a good, regularly updated run-down that let’s you follow the key details in a quick read. But here’s a piece from three days ago that goes a bit deeper and looks at six factors that will determine the scope of the spread of the virus.

Obviously this stuff can be daunting to read. We are all potentially affected when there’s a new pathogen growing rapidly anywhere in the world. But I really recommend this one to you, both because it’s a clear discussion of helpful information about spread and lethality. But it’s also fascinating information, breakdowns of how epidemics are modeled, surprisingly precise data on how many people have traveled out of Wuhan to different regions of China and different parts of the world – 8,000 to the US, 23,000 to Japan; 136,000 to Beijing, 18,000 to Hong Kong.

But here’s the number that just blew me away – perhaps not that surprising in itself but stunning from an epidemiological point of view. There are four times as many train and air travels in China as there were during the SARS crisis in 2003.

Now, the explosive economic growth of China is in many ways the story of our time. So maybe that’s not that surprising. But still … that’s just 17 years ago. And you can see that that is a game-changing difference in terms of containing an epidemic.

Anyway, scary stuff, fascinating stuff. Here’s the article.

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