Covid-19 R reproduction rate same among countries that locked down and ones that didn’t; Germany, Sweden, UK

Jul 22, 2020

The shape of the infection curve – for that is what it is, and presented differently would show a bell-curve – is strikingly similar for all three countries – Germany, Sweden, UK

Now let’s bring in the reproduction rate of Covid-19 for two other European countries; one lionised for its early response (Germany – green), and one that has eschewed lockdown altogether and has allowed group immunity to build without sacrificing civil liberty and education (Sweden – blue). Again, drawn from the actual hospital data and working back. You’d imagine the difference would be night and day, no?

A study from Bristol University has already done this for infections, showing them peaking before lockdown. But Prof Ferguson is doubling down on his original line today, talking as if lockdown slammed an emergency break on the virus.: ‘The epidemic was doubling every three to four days before lockdown was introduce,” he told MPs. “So had we introduced lockdown measures a week earlier, we would have reduced the final toll by at least a half.’ Cue tomorrow’s headlines. But how many of them scrutinise the assumptions behind his claim?

The R number – the rate of infection – can be deduced by looking at deaths. It is simply a measure of the difference in the number of infections between each ‘generation’ of an infectious disease and the next. For Covid-19, an average (established early on by the WHO) of five days elapse between me becoming infectious and (having given it to you) you becoming infectious: this is the ‘serial interval’. So if four people have Covid and five days later 12 people have covid, the R is 3 (12 divided by 4).

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