Why the Slovak Government’s COVID-19 Model Is Wrong

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Your model is as good as the inputs & the assumptions that go into the model itself.

This was an older posts, if you’re interested in the details of Government Model Approaches to Improvements, a latest post from 3-Apr-2020— is here. Otherwise continue below.

What happened here:

The Slovak Government introduced a model that shows the coronavirus peak in the country at 170 000 cases in July 2020..

The “model” is below:

The Model

The Model:

  • Red displays a peak — if no intervention is done (peak at 1 million cases).
  • The green displays a peak — if major interventions are done (peak at 170 000 cases, July 2020).

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CORRECTION!

There are few main discrepancies besides others between the government model & my assumptions:

  • The government model talks about -> PEAK OF TOTAL CASES. As it focus primarily on hospital capacity (total).
  • My assumptions talk about -> PEAK OF NEW CASES/DAY. As I focus on economy restart target dates (R0 <1, new cases decline).

!END OF CORRECTION

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Now, here is the problem with the model:

  • How is it possible that Slovak Republic would have a peak 4 months after majority of Europe is peaking now (1-Apr-20)?
  • How is it possible that Slovak Republic would have a peak in 4 months if Czech Republic is peaking or will peak soon? Czechs did almost 10x tests while having 2x population, while the country is “more open” to business, travel & foreigners in general compared to Slovakia.
  • How is it possible that Slovak Republic would have a peak in 4 months if USA may be peaking in mid April 2020 (WA, CA, NY peaking soon). While at the same time US was later to be hit hard than countries like Italy & Spain.
  • Is the model working with right assumptions and the right inputs? What if the model skewed inputs (R0, limited test data, sample size, etc.) and have wrong assumptions going into model at the same time?
  • How come, I am no expert on the coronavirus-es, but — how come — the peak of “flu” type of virus would peak in the middle of summer? What are the odds?

I can be wrong on the “summer peak” as again I am no expert on the viruses per se, however — you do not have to be expert on any virus to spot math problem. Just add common sense, if anything..

Here is another interesting thing:

  • The Government wants to open more & more businesses (which is right thing to do). How is it possible to open more — if you believe the cases will go up? If you believe that — how can you open the economy — something does not add up.
  • There is this crazy talk about “blackout” — complete shutdown of economy — which makes sense, if you believe the cases will spike up out of control..
  • But what if the model is simply wrong? You are then spreading unsubstantiated fear, uncertainty and doubt amongst citizens, businesses, families, for no reason but incompetence.

A leader — is a decisive commander in chief in tough times — to lead the nation out of crisis.

People often ask me what I would do..

Well, this is a war against decentralised & invisible enemy — the virus. The most trusted and most capable institution there is — is the army. They do execute in the field, not via media proxy fights or political blabol. This is execution problem, not “virological or epidemiological” problem. Those are just partial inputs. So as Commander in Chief I would immediately call upon Allies* and request:

  • Tests and test kits, to increase the state capacity for testing — hunting the positives to the pinch — to both kill the spread & get the knowledge of what’s really going on. Making invisible -> visible.
  • Their data models, and their data — to understand & make much better & informed decisions. Stop the uncertainty & fear, communicate the truth.

I would literally pick up the phone, call one by one and won’t let go until the help is agreed.

If this is not your #1 priority in crisis, then I do not know what is.

While & Then: Track & trace, track & trace (daily) — people and businesses — while jump start the economy.

Why Allies? I do not see that capacity at home, given the constrains. Allies are not called allies for no reason. Slovakia has less inhabitants than Chicago urban area, go figure..

Who else do you call in a war you cannot handle or handling poorly? Forget virus now, you need to jump start the economy — it’s people’s fight. Corona is a proxy.

What else? Keep what’s working. Get rid of what’s not working.

What would I not do?

  • I would not simply accept a model that shows we can sit still and look for some chart peak in 4 months. The urgency to act was a week ago.
  • I would not accept any form of state blackout unless there are substantial reasons for it — which there is none at the moment.
  • I would not simply spread the fear throughout the whole nation & business community. Facts are facts. I would not hesitate to tell the truth, people deserve to know, especially now. Communicate clearly, in simple terms.

If it takes Allies a week, fine. If month fine. But the testing capacity of 3,000 tests/day will not solve the problem. Think 10x, 100x, think millions of people solutions, get rid of the linear mindset.

The vaccine is a quick home/company tests & daily surveillance system.

The economy needs to start, the people need to go back to their lives. Corona virus deaths are tragic for individuals.

The recession & depression can be tragic for the whole nation.

If the assumptions & inputs into the model are wrong, both the decision making is wrong & chaotic messages are spread throughout the whole nation.

Everyone can make a mistake, everyone deserves a second chance. But if one cannot lead a nation out of the crisis, he or she should get out of the way —that responsibility cannot be delegated. There are other capable people in this government.

Now, this is getting political for few reasons, just a bunch:

  • No reporter, no politician, no expert was able to call out the Government model on being simply wrong. Only some blabol on the “crazy blackout talk” — but that’s easy & cheap. The Model itself — unchallenged.. Real reporting is dead for a long time.
  • Why someone cannot just pick up the phone and make those calls?
  • One day someone will have to explain the public — how wrong — the model, the thinking, the decision making & the fear derived from the model were..

Go figure..

This post is dedicated to all & everyone — trying really hard to help its nations on the front lines.

She was exponential..

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Martin Skakala, inceptusengine.com

Life is a video game. Full of laugh & anxiety. Choose your ammo wisely.