Sunday, May 17, 2020

Covid 19 ~ the doomsday predictions and the reality !


Covid 19 and the lockdowns ensured that people remained at home – while some were busy glued to entertainment and reading books, the others were engaged in seeing news channels and reading Corona virus updates. .. .. while some more were actively engaged in forwarding and sharing all that got about Corona, the news, views, statistics, doomsday predictions and more – which category do you belong ?

The 16th-century physician and writer Michel de Nostredame, better known as Nostradamus, is believed by many to have been the greatest clairvoyant to ever live. Nostradamus' followers and conspiracy theorists credit the French mystic with predicting future world events, penned in cryptic passages called quatrains. There have been many other predictions too !

"It's now estimated that by the year 2020, there will be no glaciers of Mt. Kilimanjaro," Christian Lambrechts, an officer at the U.N. Environment Program, told CNN in 2003. The Associated Press also reported in 2007 that “in 2001, [glaciologist Lonnie] Thompson predicted the snows of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania would disappear within the next 20 years.” But today, Kilimanjaro's glaciers are still there, according to a 2019 paper in the Journal Ecology and Evolution that includes photos and a new timetable: "most of glaciers on Kilimanjaro ... will most likely disappear within 25 years."

There was a time not long ago, when body language was considered the most important and that included – hug, handshake, standing closer, eye-to-eye contact and more.  We  were all impressed by touch screens and all they enabled us to do. COVID-19 has made most of us hyper-aware of every touchable surface that could transmit the disease, so in a post- Covid 19 World, it’s expected that we’ll have fewer touch screens and more voice interfaces and machine vision interfaces. Prior to the pandemic, we saw the rollout of contactless payment options through mobile devices. However, with the increase in people wanting to limit what they touch, an option to pay for goods and services that does not require any physical contact is likely to gain traction. Machine vision interfaces are already used today to apply social media filters and to offer autonomous checkout at some stores. Expect there to be an expansion of voice and machine vision interfaces that recognize faces and gestures throughout several industries to limit the amount of physical contact.

Cricket is never pure Maths or Economics… an ordinary person might see a scoreline and think that one team is certain to lose – while to a pundit who know the bowling attack, the conditions, the stage of the match, batting line-up, past performances, ground, weather conditions, the captain’s tactic and more… the result could appear different and the Cricket pundit who analyses is more like to predict it more correct… !!! ~ and it is the middle overs which is always challenging for the analyst as the game could turn either way…. The most important and interesting aspect of  Cricket has always been its ‘unpredictability’………..

Sky Sports thanks to  University of Canterbury (UC) research,  tried coming  closer to provide an answer to the `who’s winning’ question. In the one day internationals (ODIs) and Twenty20 games shown on Sky Sport a couple of years back, statistical information included the WASP—the `winning and score predictor’ .  In the first innings, the WASP was given as a predicted score. In the second innings, it was the probability of the batting team winning the match – in terms of %. This was based on models developed by UC PhD graduate Dr Scott Brooker and his supervisor Dr Seamus Hogan. According to its makers, WASP is not a forecast that could be used to set TAB betting odds. Rather they are estimates about how well the average batting team would go against the average bowling team in the conditions under which the game is being played given the current state of the game.

Now with the onset of Covid19, more than 50 economists were polled by Reuters, asking for their predictions for economic recovery after the coronavirus. Will be it a U? A V? Maybe a W? Predictions for economic recovery after coronavirus-linked lockdowns are throwing up a medley of letters to indicate whether we can expect a bounceback, a slow-burn recovery or relapse. Of more than 50 economists polled by Reuters, some forecast the world economy will shrink as much as 6% in 2020. The other extreme was a prediction for 0.7% growth. The average was a 1.2% contraction.

Since first being recorded late last year in China, the Covid-19 coronavirus has spread around the world, and been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. However, differences in testing mean that the number of cases may be understated for some countries. The number of deaths is a more dependable indicator. The disease has hit certain countries, including Italy, Spain, the UK and the US, with particular cruelty.

India recorded the highest single-day spike in Covid-19 infections with 4,987 new cases in the last 24 hours as the national tally crossed the 90,000-mark on Saturday, according to the Union health ministry. The jump in the number of Covid-19 cases comes closer to closure of  third round of the lockdown, which was first imposed from March 25. It is scheduled to end on Sunday night (today) and the norms for the next round would be announced before that.  As of now,  the cases in India stood at 90,927, the number of deaths at 2,872 and the number of those recovered at 34,108.  Maharashtra has been on top with Mumbai reporting 18396 cases.  To tackle the spike in the number of cases, two more emergency hospitals will be opened next week to handle the grim situation. Meanwhile, three APMC markets will reopen in the coming week. The APMC in Navi Mumbai, which includes vegetable, grain-pulses and spices markets, will open its doors on Monday. After an increasing number of traders and workers contracted the virus, the five wholesale markets had been shut for the past one week.

Tamil Nadu reported 477 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday even as 939 patients were discharged from hospitals across the state. The total number of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 till date is 10,585 while that of patients who have been discharged from hospitals is 3,538.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had this week told chief ministers that the Centre would opt for another spell of the national lockdown but made it clear that lockdown 4.0 would be very different from the earlier three versions. PM Modi had also indicated that the Centre would let the states decide how to ease the restrictions this time.

If you are among the ones, who remained at home and read all projections on Covid, here is something read in Indian Express of 23.4.2020 stating that there would be a steep rise in Covid deaths by mid-May with a scientific model projecting a grim picture.  

In the worst-case scenario, mortality was projected to increase to 38,220 from present 652, while the number of positive patients is predicted to touch nearly 30 lakh and over 76,000 ICU beds in hospitals will be required to handle the projected load. (in reality it is 90927 cases reported and no. of deaths put at 2870)

The projections were based on a statistical model ‘COVID-19 Med Inventory’ — an academic initiative by Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Indian Institute of Science-Bangalore, IIT-Bombay and Armed Forces Medical College-Pune. The researchers said that the projections of infections and deaths in Italy and New York State, based on this model, closely match the actual outcomes.

Happy that the projections failed abysmally – things are far different and we hope that normalcy returns sooner.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
17.5.2020.

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