The twin pandemics and the second wave

Today, I took another look at the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic using data on confirmed new cases per day. The first figure shows four countries where the second wave has peaked and is coming down. Australia is somewhat unique in that its second wave peaked considerably higher than the first. Croatia and likely Spain will join that club.

The next figure shows four examples of European countries in which a second wave has started and average new cases per day are growing. New cases are growing in Switzerland at a relatively slow rate. Perhaps more alarmingly, the average effective reproduction number over the last 14 days, Reff,  is substantially higher in all four countries neighbouring Switzerland: France, Germany, Austria and Italy. This number represents the people infected on average by an infected person. Among the European countries with rising case numbers, the UK had the lowest Reff at 1.02 but it could easily rise if there is too much relaxation of social distancing and other measures. For a more detailed explanation of the data and analysis refer to this post on my professional website.

The last figure shows four countries who have had an extended first wave, now declining, and may or may not yet have a second wave. It is no coincidence that three of the four countries in this category  – Brazil, Russia and the USA – are led by far-right nationalists who use technology as a tool for disinformation, demonize minorities and ignore climate change.  Sweden was one of the few European countries not to impose a compulsory lockdown and has had a much more extended epidemic as a result. It did ban gatherings of more than 50 people, but other measures were voluntary. Though I saw a post from a Swedish man recently, saying he was having a lot of trouble coping with the social distancing of 2 metres and asking how soon he could go back to his usual social distance of 5 metres. I haven’t classified the USA has having two waves, because the first small plateau resulted from the peaking and decline of the epidemic in New York largely, while transmission continued to increase rapidly elsewhere, particularly in the South. I came across an article today that described the USA as suffering from twin pandemics: covid-19 and stupidity.

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