Archive for July 9, 2020

The R in Ireland

Posted in Covid-19 with tags , , , on July 9, 2020 by telescoper

I was playing about with different ways of presenting the Covid-19 data I’ve been collecting here to make the trends clearer. This is what the daily confirmed cases and reported deaths look like if smoothed with a simple 7-day moving average and plotted on a log-linear scale:

This confirms something I’ve suspected over the last couple of weeks: that the number of confirmed cases has been edging upwards. This is not so clear in the raw counts, but is suggested: the smoothing makes this easier to see by reducing the noise and removing any weekend reporting artefacts:

This recent upward trend is consistent with the latest estimates of the basic reproduction number R that suggest it has crept up to around unity.

The number of cases per day remains low and confined to particular clusters. Hopefully contact tracing and isolation will prevent the increase getting out of hand.

It seems about two thirds (15 out of 23) of the new cases are associated with travel, though, so any loosening of restrictions on overseas travel would be very unwise.

The maximum age of any of the new cases reported yesterday is 44 and 77% are under 25. Perhaps its younger people who are less likely to observe social distancing.

I worry a bit that Ireland may be unlocking too quickly and people may be getting a bit complacent about the situation.

This is not over.

Open Contact Tracing

Posted in Covid-19 with tags , , , on July 9, 2020 by telescoper

I was interested to see in the news this week   that Ireland’s Covid-19 contact tracing app has been released and is now available for download. According to the HSE it has been downloaded over a million times in the last few days. I haven’t downloaded it myself (yet) but I probably will.

One of the interesting things about this app is that it cost €850,000 (which is about £760K at today’s exchange rate). The UK’s attempt to produce a similar bit of software has so far cost over £11M for an app that doesn’t exist. It seems a rather similar situation to the £50M paid for ferries that didn’t exist.

“Where has that money gone?”, I hear you ask. The answer is “I don’t know”, but it’s probably been pocketed by friends of Mr Cummings.

But UK residents needn’t fear. Not only is the Irish Covid-19 tracker app free to download and I’m told it also works on the other side of the Irish Sea. Not only that, but  the source code is also freely available on Github.

This app does of course raise genuine concerns about data protection, though perhaps not as great as it would if the data was being handed to friends of Mr Cummings. I was amused yesterday however to see usual conspiracy theorists expressing their fears about what would happen to their data if they downloaded the app on – of all places – Facebook.