Predicting the peak in the growth of Coronavirus through visual analysis

While my article on the regenerating product life cycle is still hopping from editor to editor of different journals, I felt it important to share a hypothesis on the growth of coronavirus second wave in India and Delhi.

Using Bing Coronavirus tracker, during the past year, I’ve been studying the trajectory of the growth of the virus. Before you come to an assumption about my study and might even call it non-scientific, hear me out. I’ve found visual analysis extremely helpful in many cases where data is not very accurate. The pattern that a line takes, leads to the visual interpretation and forecast of what its future can be. We use this technique fairly commonly in fashion, where colour, style and silhouette are predicted by designers. What the designers do, is not unlike regression analysis, but they have a certain influence in which direction the trend might pull.

The coronavirus however is organic, and the governance is the factor which adds some amount of control. As I said before, I’ve been trying to understand the visual aspects of the product life cycle, in particular, growth curves. So, when I observed a particular curve in the second wave of the coronavirus in India, it was unmistakable what path is might take.

The second wave of SARS Covid in India has been taking an S shaped curve. This curve was discovered in mathematics as the visual form of the logistic function. It was later also adapted by Raymond Pearl, a biologist in the 1920s, who actually tried to promote it as the law of growth. His theory was refuted by his contemporaries, but the S shaped curve went on to be adapted to the product life cycle, the diffusion of innovation and later, the stages of development.

Growth of the Second Wave of Coronavirus in India

Coming back to the shape of the growth curve, this particular curve of the growth of the coronavirus in India was plotted with the data available on Bing. A further projection was created for a visual completion, assuming that the s shaped curve pattern is being followed. It is estimated that the coronavirus cases would peak between 15 May to 18 May, from 425K cases and upto 450K cases.

Growth trajectory of Corona virus in New Delhi (second wave)

The Delhi Growth trajectory has me a bit more worried. Its steep rise, gives us a couple of scenarios. First, a conservative one, where the trajectory gently peaks at around 38K cases a day between 8th May to 9th May; and a second one, which shoots up further still. Here, I stick to the more positive picture. Comparison with the bing chart after 22nd April, however, does not visually show this trajectory. On contrary, it shows a sort of plateauing around 25K to 27K cases a day. This difference, in my opinion is due to inadequate testing and under reporting. The numbers from Delhi and India as a whole are suspect. As citizens, we know that not everyone with symptoms is able to get tested. Also those with mild symptoms and fever are assumed to have covid under the new guidelines. Finally, asymptomatic are rarely getting tested. We just do not have enough structure to support testing for our humongous population.

I was pleasantly surprised to also observe the predictions from IIT Kanpur on the peak to be quite similar at 38-48 lakh between May 14-18 for India. They use multiple scientific and mathematical assumptions, and surely use of more than one brain.

Another forecast from a firm in Hong Kong predicts the peak to fall in June. Its prediction takes into account 12 other countries. A visual analysis of the chart of countries other than India, do not seem to show the same pattern. Brazil, US and Indonesia, for example show different patterns. It may be due to a different set of governance, testing method or pattern of case reporting. Hence, I wouldn’t add India to this mix. The rise of the virus in a perfect pattern in the second wave in India from 20th march, especially in the capital city of Delhi, is quite suspect and one wonders if any artificial forces were at play. Now waiting till the end of the month to revisit this hypothesis and to ascertain if Visual analysis has a future; or it can be dismissed as a load of hogwash.

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