A similar pattern – rapid increase in infections to a peak in the sixth week, and decline from the eighth week – is common everywhere, regardless of response policies
The following is the text of a study by Prof Isaac Ben-Israel, first published on April 16, 2020. (Ben-Israel discussed his research on Israeli TV on April 13, saying that simple statistics show the spread of the coronavirus declines to almost zero after 70 days — no matter where it strikes, and no matter what measures governments impose to try to thwart it.)
Our analysis shows that this is a constant pattern across countries. Surprisingly, this pattern is common to countries that have taken a severe lockdown, including the paralysis of the economy, as well as to countries that implemented a far more lenient policy and have continued in ordinary life.
It turns out that a similar pattern – rapid increase in infections that reaches a peak in the sixth week and declines from the eighth week – is common to all countries in which the disease was discovered, regardless of their response policies: some imposed a severe and immediate lockdown that included not only “social distancing” and banning crowding, but also shutout of economy (like Israel); some “ignored” the infection and continued almost a normal life (such as Taiwan, Korea or Sweden), and some initially adopted a lenient policy but soon reversed to a complete lockdown (such as Italy or the State of New York). Nonetheless, the data
shows similar time constants amongst all these countries in regard to the initial rapid growth and the decline of the disease.
For example, our calculations show that the pattern of the daily new infections as a percentage of accumulated number of infections (weekly averaged), is common to every country around the globe. Typically, in the first phase of the spread, this percentage amounted around 30%, decreased to a level of less than 10% after 6 weeks, and ultimately reached a level of less than 5% a week later.
Note: The exponential GF of 1.15 is used to show means of comparison of infection growth rate. Notice Italy peaks at about 30 days; Sweden peaks about 37 days, yet the two countries took drastically different approaches in response to the outbreak.
[In late 1968]…the Hong Kong Flu was sweeping through the country, eventually killing around 100,000 Americans, most of them over the age of 65, at a time when the United States had more than 100 million fewer people than it does today.
Life went on as usual. Schools, churches, and businesses remained open. Neighbors held backyard barbeques, Scout troops continued meeting, we shook hands and shared hugs
When we compare ourselves to the British who endured the torments of the Blitz or to the Americans who seemed almost oblivious to the Hong Kong Flu, why are we so terrified of this virus?
I ask these questions sincerely and without rancor, and have no real answers, only conjecture.
Perhaps our 24-hour news cycle has inflamed our apprehensions.
Smoot-Hawley and the New Deal are hardly the only examples of government actions making a panic worse.
Thomas Sowell recounts several instances in which governments turned small problems into major ones by using blunt force—often price controls—to respond to public panic about rising costs of a given commodity.
One of the more famous examples of this is the gasoline crisis of the 1970s, which started when the federal government took a small problem (temporary high costs of gasoline) and turned it into a big one (a national shortage).
As Sowell explains, however, there was not an actual scarcity of gasoline. There was nearly as much gas sold in 1972 as the previous year (95 percent, to be precise).
Similar examples kind be found throughout history, from the grain shortages in Ancient Rome brought about by Diocletian’s “Edict on Maximum Prices” to the mortgage crisis in 2007.
It is no coincidence that crises—foreign wars, terrorist attacks, and economic depressions—have often resulted in vast encroachments of freedom and even given rise to tyrants (from Napoleon to Lenin and beyond). In his book Crisis and Leviathan, the historian and economist Robert Higgs explains how throughout history, crises have been used to expand the administrative state, often by allowing “temporary” measures to be left in place after a crisis has abated (think federal tax withholding during World War II).
Like an economic panic, pandemics incite mass fear, which can lead to flawed and irrational decision making.