N95 particulate respirator masks and procedure face masks are arranged for a photograph at a … [+]
© 2020 Bloomberg Finance LP
We compared the progression of U.S. coronavirus cases, and here’s how we saw it:
- 60 cases on Feb 26, or 0.2 cases per million people
- 158 cases on Mar 4, or 0.5 cases per million people
- 1301 cases on Mar 11, or 3.9 cases per million people
- 4708 cases on Mar 16, or 14.3 cases per million people
Note the cases per million trajectories in the U.S.: from 0.2 per million, going to 0.5, then 3.9 and 11.5 per million as of Mar 16, looks more like it’s closely tracking China’s path in the early days than that of countries such as Italy or Iran. For perspective, China saw cases grow from 0.4 per million for the week ended Jan 22, to 5.4 for Jan 29 and to 19.5 on Feb 5.
If we assume that the growth rate in U.S. cases per million follows a similar trajectory as China did, going forward, posting 110%, 27%, 5% and 2% growth in cases per million over the next four weeks, it looks likely that cumulative cases could begin to level off by the middle of April at around 13,500 considering a U.S. population of 330 million.
Our dashboard ‘Could U.S. Coronavirus Plateau At <15,000 Cases?’ shows comparison data across countries and possible future trajectory for U.S. coronavirus cases.
Why the China track?
The U.S. COVID-19 spread path to date has tracked closer to China instead of Italy. One possible reason is that measures adopted across the U.S., including school closures and social distancing, are being embraced widely at the individual family-unit level. While data in the next two weeks will be telling, this self-adopted family-unit distancing in the U.S. might be close to what China enforced, albeit somewhat less democratically.
We show in our dashboard above if the U.S. progression tracks the growth in China’s cases per million people, the number of U.S. cases is likely to start plateauing below 15,000. Such signs of successful plateauing of spread in-turn might be visible as soon as early-to-mid-April. If true, we expect that this will spur market recovery over Q2.
Our analysis of the current -28% coronavirus crash vs. 4 historic crashes compares recovery times and depth of crash across these major economic events over the last 100 years or so in detail.
Why look at cases per million, instead of just cases?
We think this is important and somewhat self-explanatory. Countries have different populations, with China close to 4 times that of the U.S. population, while Italy is much smaller than the U.S. On the other hand, much is unknown and evolving daily. If the U.S. coronavirus spread progression follows along Italy’s path, we might be looking at a spread closer to 300-400 cases per million over the coming weeks, and perhaps more since we haven’t yet seen the plateau in Italy. This will imply the number of U.S. cases racking up to over 100,000 [100 cases per million is about 35,000 cases in the U.S.]
However, plateauing doesn’t mean population-wide immunity!
Slowing down of the trajectory doesn’t necessarily mean the virus will completely go away, it merely provides a longer time horizon for communities to be more prepared to care for the sick, for therapies to develop, and ultimately even a vaccine to address the problem for good!
We think, and absolutely hope, especially if the U.S. continues to follow the family-unit-level social distancing steadfastly along with other prudent practices, a China track is quite possible. In that case, many companies ranging from P&G to United Airlines could see an upside of 20-50% and more in the medium term. As we monitor and update the forecast and comparison daily, you can follow along the updated U.S. coronavirus cases forecast and trajectory on our dashboard Could U.S. Coronavirus Plateau At <15,000 Cases?
- Per CDC guidance illnesses that began over the last week may not be reflected yet, and the actual reported numbers may be higher https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases-in-us.html
- Global numbers from the WHO situation reports https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports/