In the Thick of It

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Daily Tallies of New Coronavirus Cases in US, Russia Grow More Often Than Not in March

March 26, 2020
RM Staff

Originally posted with data through March 25. Updated on March 30, April 1 and April 3, 2020.

As cases of COVID-19 rise around the globe, upending daily life and forcing much of the world into pandemic-related lockdowns or other restrictions, many are wondering when the outbreak may peak in their countries and some sort of return to normal may begin. One person who correctly predicted the peak of the virus in China is Nobel prize winner Michael Levitt—and he predicts that the worst of the outbreak in the rest of the world will be over sooner than many health experts believe.

Levitt correctly forecast both the number of cases and the number of deaths in China, saying at the end of February that China’s cases would total around 80,000 with approximately 3,250 deaths. As of March 16, with its outbreak considered largely under control, China had reported 80,298 cases total and 3,245 deaths. In making his prediction, Levitt focused not on the number of new daily cases, but on the rate at which they increased. “The fact that new cases were being identified at a slower rate was more telling than the number of new cases itself. It was an early sign that the trajectory of the outbreak had shifted,” the Los Angeles Times reports. Even with incomplete data, "a consistent decline means there’s some factor at work that is not just noise in the numbers," Levitt said.

We have tried to follow Levitt’s approach to measure and compare the numbers of new confirmed cases in the U.S. and Russia using data from Johns Hopkins University for March 1–April 2. Please see our results below.

Photo of U.S. Navy hospital ship by Bill Mesta.