Tracking The Trajectory And Peak Of Coronavirus Cases

I have seen a lot written about the Coronavirus, a.k.a. COVID-19, but I have yet to see any informed discussion about the trajectory of cases in various regions, the cycle time to peak new cases or meaningful predictions about the future course of the spread of the virus.

So here are some thoughts on the subject, using historical data from Wikipedia that is more standardized in time and collection methodology than any other data I have been able to find on the Web. First, I examined the entire history of case data by country and found inflection points that roughly correspond to 10 new cases and 100 new cases per day. As identification of initial cases is somewhat problematic given the variable protocols for testing, availability of testing kits, timing of nearby positive cases, etc. I elected to use the 100 new cases per day threshold.

It turns out that there have been seven countries so far that have logged 100 new COVID-19 cases in a single day. In order of reaching that 100 new cases threshold, they are: China (January 21st), South Korea (February 21st), Italy (February 26th), Iran (February 27th), France (March 5th), Germany (March 6th) and Spain (March 6th). The U.S. has come close to the 100 new case threshold and may indeed hit that mark today or tomorrow.

The graphic below shows the daily number of new cases in each of the seven 100+ new case countries. Note that it is reasonable to expect some sort of parabolic pattern for new cases with a steep jump in new cases that eventually flattens out, peaks and declines in a similar fashion. This pattern probably would have been the case in China, except that on February 10th, China changed the methodology for counting new “confirmed” cases from relying strictly on the basis of a positive result from a lab testing kit to cases that included patients where CT scans for pneumonia allowed for a “confirmed” case clinical diagnosis for likely COVID-19 cases without having to wait for a lab test and results.

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Disclosure(s): net short VXX and VMAX; net long XIV and ZIV at time of writing.  The CBOE is an advertiser on VIX and More.

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