Our data scientists’ analysis of Victoria's COVID-19 infection trajectory has unearthed a disturbing finding: it would appear that since April our southern neighbour has systematically underperformed the rest of Australia's key conurbations in terms of its ability to contain this wicked virus and flatten their curve. 

The first chart below is a screenshot from our internal, real-time system that tracks the cumulative number of daily infections. This highlights that Victoria has been struggling to contain COVID-19 since the start of April in striking contrast to the rest of Australia, which has done a brilliant job of flattening their curves. (Click on the image to view a higher resolution version of it.)

The second screen-shot from our systems presents the growth in cumulative infections on a state-by-state basis in logarithmic terms, and it shows a similar story: there is something in the Victorian experience---either its policy reaction function or perhaps the composition of its population---that has prevented it from flattening the COVID-19 curve like all other states. Put differently, Victoria's curve has been increasing, not flat-lining, for a number of months now in contrast to the other major metro markets.

If we then look at the daily change in the number of new infections, one can see that Victoria (blue line) has reported persistently higher cases than NSW (brown line), which is the comparison in the first screen-shot below, and all other states, which are included in the second screen-shot.

While I might want to beat-up on my Victorian brethren, when we turn to consider our real-time Google mobility data, on almost every score Premier Andrews has been a lot tougher than the other states. You can click on the screen-shot below to see our Google activity data in more detail. Victoria is the purple line and has experienced, for example, lower retail/recreation activity, public transport usage, workplace attendance, participation in parks, and longer stays at home. (The residential screen tracks the duration of time that people spend in their homes.) 

It therefore remains something of a puzzle as to why the Victorians have been such poor COVID-19 performers. I suspect it has to do with the composition of their population, and predispositions among certain cohorts of individuals that have higher COVID-19 transmission propensities through their personal interactions. This makes sense given Victoria's recent outbreaks have been reportedly focussed on specific family gatherings. 

Get investment insights from industry leaders

Liked this wire? Hit the follow button below to get notified every time I post a wire. Not a Livewire Member? Sign up for free today to get inside access to investment ideas and strategies from Australia’s leading investors.



Patrick Fresne

There is some reason to suspect that climatic factors might be one element behind the recent virus resurgence in Melbourne. Earlier this year, a study conducted by the University of Maine found the regions in which COVID-19 spread most rapidly were areas in which the mean winter season temperature and humidity range from 5–11 C (41–51.8 F) and 47–79%, respectively. Over the past month there have been a number of days in which the temperature of Melbourne has fallen within that 5-11 degree range over an extended period, for example on the 7th, 8th, the 21st and the 22nd of June. By way of comparison, the other large Australian cities (Brisbane, Sydney, Perth) have experienced significantly warmer temperatures over the same time frame.

Christopher Joye

Yep, that's one possibility!

Owen COOK

Just blame it on Collingwood - they're used to it (tongue in cheek)

brad northfield

When people become complacent, there is always a chance of a flare up in cases. From memory, we have 11 people in hospital and 1 person in ICU as of yesterday, hardly a second wave. Not sure weather can be blamed for Vic uptick, Tasmania and NZ not having same issue.

Christopher Joye

haha

Leon Rotstayn

Aside from the well-documented problems at the quarantine hotels in Melbourne, I have also been wondering what has gone wrong in Victoria, given that Sydney and Melbourne are of similar size and both have diverse populations. The Victorian health authorities did admit that they had a "blind spot" regarding reaching out to people who speak limited English. I have no idea whether this was handled better in NSW... Perhaps someone can comment. Weather may have played a role, but I have a different angle on this... In April, the weather over southeastern Australia flipped into a state with lots of frontal systems and westerly winds. (For the weather geeks, the Southern Annular Mode went "negative".) This gave Melbourne a significantly cooler April than average, with more cloudy, showery and windy weather than average. For example, average April maximum temperature at Melbourne Airport was only 17.8 degrees, which is 2.6 degrees less than average. After the relatively warm summer, this sudden shift to cool, showery weather would have driven people indoors, where the risk of catching the virus is higher, especially in larger groups. Those same westerly winds helped to keep the weather relatively warm and dry in Sydney. It's easy enough to confirm this via the Bureau's website. There is even some evidence that UV light from sunshine is helpful at killing the virus, though the following study is only based on measurements in a lab, so is not conclusive: https://academic.oup.com/jid/article/doi/10.1093/infdis/j...

Andrew Gemmell

Maybe weather, though temperatures in Texas and Florida are warmer than Victoria at the moment! It doesn't take much to get it moving. A part of the population who is relaxed to the point of not caring, carrying the virus unknowingly (could be asymptomatic or even have mild symptoms), then it will spread quickly. If that population have much the same attitude then it'll be much harder to contain.

Daniel Young

Victoria may have been tougher on some lockdown measures, but I believe they began opening up just a little too early - as you've pointed out, the curve never really flattened. I believe if they'd waited to reach a period of zero community transmission before opening up, they'd be in the same situation as states like QLD. True that climate may play a factor, but not if people are correctly socially distancing.

Pieter Bruinstroop

Speaking as a Victorian, by residence not birth, we feel it has a lot to do with resentment at the Premier's harsher lock-downs, coupled with more recent mixed messaging, where he passively encouraged thousands of demonstrators while had the police inflicting heavy fines on ordinary people, so many communities saw the evidence that it was OK to gather in large groups, oblivious to the sophistry employed by the Premier

Chris K

Vitamin D is likely a big factor in the transmission of Covid, according to Dr Rhonda Patrick. In other words, low Vit D levels correspond to a higher chance of infection. She cites the very high rates of infection of Somalies in Sweden and other similar groups. Lots of people saying climate makes a difference and indirectly thats correct but Vit D levels seems more accurate. There is a huge amount of the population who are deficient in Vit D. I recommend and take 5000 IU a day in droplets premixed with K2. During the summer months in Australia less or no supplementation may be required depending on your lifestyle.

Sarah Smith

I would be curious to see what the same graphs look like if the cases from returned travellers in quarantine were omitted. Obviously there is currently a problem with community spread, however as NSW & vic have taken most of the returned travellers, these cases could account for a large part of Vic's curve gradient.

James Light

simply its rules for some and none for others. anyone can see this without needing charts. responsibility lies squarely with commie dan.

Michael Whelan

Chris - Victoria was very slow off the mark with community testing. By the time it got started, about two weeks into term 2 (school holidays), other States had been going at it for 3-4 weeks. The lock-down was always going to run its course in terms of effectiveness, unfortunately. The problems are the subsequent causes of the community transmission - Cedar Meats, ad hoc school break-outs, BLM marches, religious get togethers, and now the failures at the quarantine hotels that the judicial inquiry will hopefully get to the bottom of (terms of reference ???). The frustration is palpable at the moment. And, apparently there are now 1000 police on "coronavirus duty".

Darryl Middleton

Chris, well you couldnt have been more correct about Victoria's lack of control of the covid!!!