Covid 19: Bangladesh’s peak may now be in September

Updated Imperial College Scenarios suggest Bangladesh’s peak may now be in September — with as many as 10,000 dying in one day. But government action can significantly reduce that.

The epidemic scenario in Bangladesh looks different this week from seven days ago, according to Imperial College’s Covid-19’s Scenario Analysis Tool.

Looking at “like-with-like” scenarios, the situation at first appears much improved.

So on June 1st, (as set out in this blog post) Imperial College’s Covid-19’s Scenario Analysis Tool suggested that — if one assumes that the current version of Bangladesh’s lockdown would result in a 75% reduction in the transmission of the virus, and was sustained over a long period of time — the peak of the epidemic would be in October with one day resulting in as many as 6,500 deaths.

However, a week on (with updated official death numbers up till Jun 7th*) and on the same assumptions of a sustained 75% reduction in the transmission of the virus, the updated Scenario Analysis Tool suggests that the peak would be much earlier in late June with a daily death toll only going as high as 82 deaths. A very significant reduction indeed.

However, unfortunately, according to Imperial College, the reduction in transmission of the virus is no longer around 75%

This is because the model now assumes that the actual level of reduction in transmission of the virus has significantly reduced from 77% (during the “lockdown”) to 41% after the government loosened it up at the end of May. (The figure of 41% is derived by Imperial College from Google’s “COVID-19 Community Mobility Report” on Bangladesh. )

At a sustained 41% reduction in the transmission of the virus, the scenario suggests that the peak of deaths would be in the beginning of September going as high as 10,200 deaths on a single day, with the epidemic coming to an end in February 2021. Of course, one would expect that this number would never be reached, as the government would surely have reintroduced stricter forms of lockdown way before then. if for example, the reduction in the transmission of the virus was increased in a month’s time from an assumed 41% to 60%, this would reduce the peak (in August) right down to about 900 a day.

Over and above the normal caveats to any mathematical modelling of this kind, which rely on many assumptions, there are a number of other important limitations to this scenario, including;

  • the actual level of reduction in virus transmission resulting from the government’s lockdown and social distancing could well be more than 41%. It is quite plausible that Google’s Community mobile report does not accurately gauge levels of movement. If so, the estimate of the level of deaths would decline considerably.
  • as noted above, the government can re-introduce measures to decrease the level of virus transmission — and doing this would result in a decrease in the numbers of estimated deaths.
  • the model relies on official government numbers of covid-19 deaths. The actual number of Covid-19 deaths in Bangladesh are almost certainly higher than the official numbers; the only question is, “how much higher?”. It is therefore likely that these scenarios may well under-estimate the likely number of total deaths from the disease.

It is important to note that as new official data is put into the model, the scenario changes.

* Imperial relies on deaths reported on the website of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, which is one day behind Bangladesh’s data. So June 7th’s death figures means Bangladesh’s June 6th’s figures)

//DB

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