COVID-19 update: Strong rise in the US and Germany but early signs of peak in Italy

The number of new cases outside China took another jump higher yesterday to 15,773 from 13,076. The growth rate was broadly unchanged at 16%, which implies a doubling in infections in five days. The degree of testing has shifted a lot across countries, which makes the data more difficult to interpret. But when combined with the number of deaths, some conclusions can still be made, in my view.

The US registered 1,797 new infections yesterday, a jump higher from 936. The total is now 6,515. Part of the increase is likely due to more testing being done but no doubt also reflects a rising level of new infections. The death rate has stabilised around 1.8% in recent days. The US is still following the track from Italy with around 10 days lag. Hence we should expect to see continued big increases over the coming week. Not least because the virus has spread to all states now, and with a population of 330m versus Italy's 60m we could see an even bigger rise. The US is close to the levels now at which Italy launched a complete lockdown of the country. The New York mayor Andrew Cuomo yesterday warned that the US will not have enough hospital beds.

The number of new cases seems to be stabilising in Italy at around 3,500 per day. The daily growth rate fell below 13% yesterday. As Italy locked down the whole country on 9 March it seems likely that we are seeing a peak in the number of new cases now. In China's provinces outside Hubei and in South Korea, it took around 10 days from very strict measures being imposed until new cases peaked. However, for Italy we need to see confirmation of this to make a firmer conclusion. The FT published a positive story yesterday about the Italian town Vo, which now see no new cases after using an aggressive testing strategy. Story here.

In Germany the number of new cases jumped higher to 1,797 from around 1,500 the previous day. The daily growth rate increased to 29% from 25% yesterday underlining that Germany is still in the exponential phase with a doubling rate of around three days. France has seen a slight decline in new cases but it could just be noise in the data, as it would seem too early to see a turn as it has typically taken 10 days from lockdown to a peak in new cases.

I have lifted the model scenarios again for the total outside China. We are now on track for a total of around 400,000 cases. However, this would involve a peak in new cases before the end of the month.

In Scandi countries Denmark saw a rise in new cases yesterday but the numbers are affected by changes in test strategy. Last week the strategy was changed to only test people in the risk group (old and sick) but in recent days the strategy is shifting back to more testing following advice from WHO and more test capacity being installed. Denmark now has 977 registered cases but likely many undetected cases. Norway and Sweden now have 1,471 and 1,196 cases but here also some caution is needed. Finland has so far registered 322 cases.

Read the full article from Danske Bank Research here

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