Post #1371: The path of Omicron in six countries.

Posted on December 28, 2021

I’m just trying to get a handle on where things are likely to be headed in the U.S. for the near term.  I’m just going to present the last three months of new cases, with a little commentary.  These plots all come from Google searched for COVID and the country’s name.

Here’s the game I’m playing:  How hard is it to interpret what you are seeing as a peak in new cases?  In other words, how much wishful thinking is required to say that a country has already passed its Omicron peak.

South Africa is an example of a short, sharp peak.  No wishful thinking required.  There were almost no cases of COVID-19 in circulation just prior to the Omicron wave there, so that’s pretty much a pure Omicron wave.  And it’s receding at just about the same rate that it grew.

Norway has peaked, but more gradually than South Africa.  Again, not much imagination required to interpret the graph below as showing a peak.  But Norway was already having a winter wave of Delta when Omicron came along.  The early part of that wave is Delta, the latter part is Omicron.  That might explain the relatively slow ramp-up compared to South Africa.

Denmark hasn’t reported post-Christmas data yet.  Too soon to tell.  Maybe a hint of a peak just prior to Christmas.  But with no post-Christmas data, it takes a lot of wishful thinking to call that a peak.

Great Britain’s first post-Christmas data looks high, but that one bar is three days’ worth of data.  With just a bit of wishful thinking — break the last bar into thirds and fill in last three slots with that — yeah, maybe that looks peak-ish.  But it’s too soon to tell.  That relatively low first post-Christmas data point might be an artifact of testing availability and behavior over the holiday.

Canada’s COVID trends tend to mirror those in the U.S. (or vice-versa, depending on which side of the border you reside).  I can see a peak there, if I just focus on the shape of the blue bars, not the seven-day-moving average line.    Another few days ought to determine that one way or the other.

U.S.A. data reporting is so ragged, it’s hard to say much.  But, trying to be positive here, take that last blue bar, break off a piece to fill in the reporting hole two days’ prior, and things haven’t really changed much in the last six days.  Sure, the seven-day moving average is still rising sharply.  But it’s not completely out of the question that (e.g.) growth in new cases has at least slowed.