One question we have been regularly asked is when will Victoria's second COVID-19 wave actually peak. We can use our existing COVID-19 forecasting systems to address this question very quickly. Recall these systems allow us to flexibly condition in real-time any target government's lockdown policy on the efficacy of countries that have gone before them. We can further hair-cut the forecast country's lockdown intensity as some discount (eg, say 75%) to that observed in other jurisdictions. (These changes are simply a matter of selecting countries and hair-cuts via our graphical user interface---I have enclosed two screen-shots that gives a sense of what it looks like.)
In the context of a second Victorian wave, we also want to be able to develop forecasts applying lockdown intensities documented in the country in question (ie, Australia). There is, however, an argument that Victoria is the first Australian example of widespread community transmission of COVID-19, which means that prior Australian infection paths that were primarily driven by imported infections may be of limited utility.
This is why we do both. That is, the system allows us to condition forecasts off both the prior Australian lockdown experience and using trajectories observed elsewhere. For this exercise I have selected a wide sample of conditioning countries, including South Korea, China, Italy, Germany, France and the UK.
The forecast results are summarised in the two images below, which are screen-shots from Coolabah's COVID-19 tracking and forecasting system (click on the images to see a better version). If we condition on the prior Australian lockdown experience, Victorian infections should peak by 15 July. If, on the other hand, we use South Korea (or Italy) as the benchmark, the peak should be by 22 July (or 26 July). Throwing in France, Germany, and/or the UK into the mix similarly implies a peak around 22 to 26 July. You can see the conditioning country on the far right-hand-side of the box in the image.
Since the Victorian government appears to have been (belatedly) thorough and aggressive in responding to its past containment errors, which propagated this second local wave, one would assume that the peak will be somewhat earlier than the European trajectories imply (say prior to 20 July).
A second Australian wave has not been our central case. We have always hypothesised that we would get future outbreaks, but a second national wave was not our expectation. In Australia we have had seven states and territories that have done a brilliant job of effectively eliminating COVID-19. One state, Victoria, has failed miserably through what is clearly a combination of policy errors. As a country, we should, however, learn from Victoria's mistakes such that the national COVID-19 policy reaction function is stronger than ever.
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For want of a better comment: this is pretty cool! *thumbs up*
The media spot-light is on Melbourne at the moment, however Canberra could be a concern. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a significant outbreak of COVID-19 in the ACT later this month, as the climatic conditions in Canberra over recent days are comparable to the conditions seen in other regions of the world prior to fast-spreading coronavirus outbreaks.
I live and work in Melbourne's Western Suburbs. In the past 6-8 weeks social distancing, especially amongst the young has been non existent. Coffee shops, take-away stores and shopping centres have been near full. In March and April you saw many people wearing masks whilst shopping, two weeks ago they were non-existent. I went shopping at Coles today and I saw about six people wearing masks out of maybe 40 customers in the store. A friend of mine who sometimes shops in Broadmeadows (in the North West) tells me it is worse there. He has seen many people walking together, hugging, shaking hands, kissing etc, with little social distancing. In other words many people in the areas hit by the Covid-19 virus were going about life as normal. Remember in Melbourne we have short days and cold weather in winter. There is no doubt many Melbournians have relaxed and felt the virus threat is overblown. Melbourne, as Australia's biggest city (yes bigger than Sydney is you exclude the Central Coast), with its cold winters was always going to be the most likely place for a flare-up of the virus,
Thanks for all of your work through the last six months. It's been invaluable to me. My estimate is that we (Victoria and therefore Australia) will come out of this second lockdown a lot wiser and a little warmer so I'm optimistic that we'll move forward both economically and medically after this.
Chris, Given the vast economic cost of mistakes in getting overseas Australians back home safely, is there an argument to route the thousands of passengers returning to Australia via Sydney and Melbourne through another more remote airport. The cost of getting quarantine wrong in Alice Springs, for example, would be far less than getting it wrong in Melbourne. Interested to hear your view.
michael that is a great idea
Why Alice Springs? Howards Springs near Darwin and Christmas Island were already used for that purpose.
HI Chris, this is terrific analysis. Given today's case count of ~430 it appears we're following your forecast case trajectory. In your model what is the daily case count at the peak? Also, do you have a range of dates for when the case count returns to close to nil?