“The rising numbers of swine flu cases mean trying to contain the virus is no longer an option, the government says. Andy Burnham, the health secretary in England, said: ‘The national focus will be on treating the increasing numbers affected by swine flu. Cases are doubling every week and on this trend we could see over 100,000 cases per day by the end of August’”.
In my day job recently I’ve been doing a bit of project planning, using existing numbers to predict future numbers. Let’s play with these swine flu numbers a little, shall we?
On June 10 the number of reported swine flu cases was 800.
Meaning that at the reported exponential infection rate, by June 17 there were 1,600 cases, June 24 3,200, July 1 6,400, by July 8 there will be 12,800, July 15 25,600, July 22 51,200, August 1 102,400, August 8 204,800, August 15 409,600, August 22 819,200, and ‘the end of August’ gives us 1,638,400 cases. We’re of course not counting the people who no longer have the illness by the end of August, because news reporting hasn’t been telling us how well and quickly people have been recovering, just how they’ve been succumming.
So, lets say now that by the end of August, we tail off the exponential infection rate and just keep with the linear infection rate of 100,000 per day. That’s a million people every ten days, or three million people per month.
October will in that case give us 4.5 million cases, November, 7.5 million cases, December, 10.5 million cases, January, 13.5 million cases. Or a full fifth of the whole UK population.