Realnoe Vremya analytics: Russia getting close to COVID-19 peak?

How long did it take in Europe and Asia to start reducing the incidence

Realnoe Vremya analytics: Russia getting close to COVID-19 peak?
Photo: mos.ru

Everyone who is being in self-isolation today is interested in one main question — when it will be possible to leave the “dungeons” again. To answer this question, Realnoe Vremya has studied the dynamics of new and active cases of COVID-19 in the countries that have started to remove restrictions and is trying to find out how much time is left until this moment for us. Apparently, we still have to wait for at least 10-14 days.

In a third of the top 20 countries, the number of patients has started to decline

The restrictions imposed due to coronavirus in almost all parts of the world will have to be relaxed sooner or later. Many countries have already taken this path — in particular, Germany and the Czech Republic have announced the gradual opening of some institutions that had been previously closed for quarantine. There is no talk of a victory over COVID-19 yet in any country. But one of the important factors that can be used to carefully mitigate the measures taken is a decrease in the “influx” of new cases combined with a decrease in active cases of coronavirus.

Of course, the “decrease in active cases” is not always an optimistic indicator: the decrease is not only due to the recovery of patients but also because of their deaths. However, in terms of statistics and transmission rate, this is one of the key indicators for recognizing the decline in the epidemic.

Realnoe Vremya decided to take a closer look at these figures: to find out in which countries the number of active cases began to decrease, in which — to grow not so fast, and which are still far from it. Besides, we decided to find out how much time usually passes between reaching the long-awaited “plateau” (when the number of new cases stops growing rapidly) and the beginning of a decrease in the number of active cases.

As it turned out, out of 20 countries leading in the number of COVID-19 cases (the United States, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, the UK, Turkey, Iran, China, Russia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal, India, Peru, Ireland and Austria), the number of active cases has already begun to decline in six. These countries are Germany, Iran, China, Brazil, Switzerland and Austria.

The number of active COVID-19 cases in the country has peaked and begun to decline about two weeks ago on April 6. Photo: Uwe Anspach/dpa

Germany: active cases started to decline a week and a half after the peak

Germany, which ranks fifth in the world in the total number of recorded cases of COVID-19 infection, is leading in the number of recovered cases. Out of the total number of patients in 146,000 people, 91,500 people managed to defeat the coronavirus. 4,600 people died.

The number of active COVID-19 cases in the country has peaked and begun to decline about two weeks ago on April 6. By this time, the number of cases in the country was about 103,000 people, and there were about 73,000 active cases. Already on April 7, there were 3,000 fewer active cases. By the time the decline in active cases began, Germany had passed two significant peaks in daily growth — they fell on March 26-28 (then 6,500—7000 people were infected per day) and April 1-3 (6,000-6,800 people per day). Since then, there were two more notable peaks in new cases in Germany, but only one of them led to a slight increase in the number of active cases (April 10), after which the decline continued. At the moment, there are 53,100 active cases in Germany, with a total number of cases of 146,000 and a daily increase of 2,000 people. In terms of the number of active cases, the country is only in the seventh.

The situation in Germany looks somewhat atypical compared to other countries, where there has been a decrease in active cases. The thing is that there were as many as four noticeable peaks in the number of cases per day. In other countries, where there has been a decrease in the number of active cases, more often one peak is seen (sometimes, however, stretched for several days with approximately the same indicators), after which there is a smooth decline. Between the first and main peak on March 27, when 6,933 new cases were recorded in Germany, and the beginning of the decline in active cases, about a week and a half passed. The last noticeable peak in Germany (with 3,700 cases per day) was already during the period of falling number of active cases, and this trend could not be changed.

In the “homeland” of COVID-19 — in China — there were also not as many peaks as in Germany. There were two of them in total — the first was reached on February 4 with almost 4,000 new cases per day, the second occurred on February 12-13

Europe's quick response

In Iran (eighth by total number of infections and fifth by number of cured cases), the difference between the daily peak and the beginning of the decline in the number of active cases was longer than in Germany. The most new cases were recorded on March 30 — then there were about 3,200 new cases, and the peak was one — after that, the number of cases only decreased. The peak value for active cases was on April 5 — then there were 32,600 patients, so the difference between these events was about two weeks (compared to one and a half weeks in Germany). Since then, the number of active cases has fallen by about a half — to 20,000, although approximately 1,300 new cases are still being recorded every day.

In the “homeland” of COVID-19 — in China — there were also not as many peaks as in Germany. There were two of them in total — the first was reached on February 4 with almost 4,000 new cases per day, the second occurred on February 12-13. Then the number of cases per day reached 14,000 people, but this is the result of one day when the country changed the method of calculating cases. The peak in the number of active cases occurred on February 17 — four days after the main peak. But since this peak is not associated with an actual jump in the number of cases, but with a change in the methodology, the count can be taken from the previous peak, which fell on February 4. Thus, about two weeks passed between the maximum number of cases and the beginning of the decline in active cases — as in Iran.

In Switzerland, for almost a month — from March 19 to April 8 — sharp spikes in new cases alternated with days when the number of infected people was decreasing. If each increase and decrease in the number of cases is considered as a peak, then in 3 weeks they can be counted seven at once. However, it seems that we are talking more about a delay in data processing (a similar situation is observed in some regions of Russia). The graph shows that the peak in Switzerland fell on March 20-23 — then up to 1,400 new cases were registered per day. The peak in the number of active cases, as in the case of Germany, occurred about 10 days after that — on March 31. Then the number of active cases was about 14,300. Since then, that is, in three weeks, the figure has fallen to 8,500.

In neighbouring Austria, the number of new cases per day peaked on March 26. Then 1,300 new cases were recorded at once. The peak number of active cases of infection occurred on April 3 — at that time, they were 9,300. That is, the period between the peak for new cases and active cases was less than in China and Iran, but also than in Germany and Switzerland — about a week.

Finally, the sixth country to show a decline in the number of active cases is Brazil. However, the graph for change of cases here is quite strange and atypical. In one day, on April 14, the number of active cases decreased by two times — from 21,900 to 9,700. At the same time, the peak in the number of new cases fell on the next day after that — April 15, when 3,300 people fell ill at once. Due to the atypical nature of such data, one shouldn't consider the case of Brazil — perhaps, such jumps are related to the peculiarities of counting cases of COVID-19.

In Italy, the death rate is steadily decreasing, and the recovery rate is increasing. However, the growth in the number of active cases has just stopped. Photo: reuters.com

No decline yet

However, not all countries that have overcome the peak of daily new cases have managed to reduce active cases. The situations described above are the most successful examples, and the scenario of COVID-19 disease development in them is going in the most successful way. At the same time, in the twenty countries by the total number of cases, there are also states where the situation has “dragged on”. What is more, these countries are not the most backward.

Out of six leading countries in terms of the total number of cases, active cases are declining in only one — Germany. The rest, namely the United States, Spain, Italy, France and the United Kingdom, are not yet able to reduce the number of active cases. At the same time, according to the charts, at least two of them — Spain and Italy — have passed the peak of the number of new cases.

In Spain, which is the second by the total number of cases (there are about 200,000 people), the peak of new cases occurred on March 26 (8,300 cases per day), but in the period up to April 2, the figure almost did not decrease — reaching 8,200, for example, on April 1. However, since then, the number of new daily cases has decreased markedly. Now the usual figure is about 3,500—4,000 new cases per day. And, despite passing the peak for new cases more than two weeks ago, the number of active cases continued to grow until April 19 — then the figure “exceeded” 100,000. The next day, the number of active cases decreased, but one day is not enough to talk about the trend. At the same time, the mortality rate is gradually decreasing, and the recovery rate from COVID-19, on the contrary, is also gradually increasing. So we can expect that the number of active cases in the coming days here will start to steadily decrease.

The situation is being similar in Italy. The mortality rate is also steadily decreasing, and the recovery rate is increasing. However, the growth in the number of active cases has just stopped. It is despite the fact that since the main peak of the number of new cases on March 21-26, about a month has passed (then up to 6,500 new cases were recorded per day).

France, according to the graph, has passed the peak in the number of new cases. But it is more difficult to understand what days it fell on than in the case of Italy and Spain. The numbers vary greatly from day to day — in this sense, the graph looks like a Swiss one. The absolute record for the number of new cases fell on April 3 (17,400 cases), then the figure fell to 2,700 (April 6), but again rose to 8,700 and 12,400 cases (April 7 and 16). Probably, the peak here can be considered the period from April 4 to April 14. Given that it has not even been 10 days since the last indicated date, let alone two weeks, France may yet start to show a decrease in the number of active cases by the beginning of May — within the same limits as Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Speaking about the number of active cases in Russia, it seems that it will take even longer to reduce this indicator than in the US and the UK. Photo: Ilya Repin

The US, Britain and Russia may be getting close to the peak

The top three in the number of new daily cases are now being the United States, Russia and the United Kingdom. As for the US and the UK, it seems that these countries are either at a peak in the number of new daily cases or have not yet reached it. In the US, there is being no noticeable decline: the absolute peak was recorded on April 4 with 34,000 cases, but the figure reached, for example, 32,000 new cases on April 17, and the minimum figure since the peak — 25,000, which is still very much. Apparently, even in a good scenario, you don't have to wait for a decrease in active cases in the US for another 10-20 days.

In the UK, there is not only a noticeable decline, but no decline at all: if a week ago, about 5,200 new cases were recorded every day, then in recent days the indicator is getting closer more to 5,600 new cases per day. Accordingly, the decline in active cases will probably begin even later than in the US.

Speaking about the number of active cases in Russia, it seems that it will take even longer to reduce this indicator than in the US and the UK. At least for now, the growth graph for the number of active cases in our country is much steeper. Besides, if the US and the UK at least are maintaining a stable number of new cases per day, then in Russia this is not the case: the number of cases is still growing very quickly (for example, on April 21, it jumped by almost a third, although the day before there was a decrease of 40%). However, the number of new cases in Russia is not increasing as fast as it was growing, for example, in the United States: 10 days before reaching the figure of 6,000 cases per day (from April 9 to 19) in Russia, the number of new daily cases was increasing by 4,15 times. In the US, 10 days before reaching the figure of 5,600 new cases per day (between March 10 and 20), the figure jumped 19-fold.

In any case, even if the Russian scenario is as optimistic as in Germany or Austria, the number of active cases will probably begin to decline no earlier than 10-14 days (and this is assuming that we have reached the peak, which is not very likely to be true if you look at the dynamics of recent days).

By Maksim Matveev