Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Wuhan Coronavirus Update (2/18/2020)


      A statistical analysis of China’s coronavirus casualty data shows a near-perfect prediction model that data analysts say isn’t likely to naturally occur, casting doubt over the reliability of the numbers being reported to the World Health Organization. ...
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      In terms of the virus data, the number of cumulative deaths reported is described by a simple mathematical formula to a very high accuracy, according to a quantitative-finance specialist who ran a regression of the data for Barron’s. A near-perfect 99.99% of variance is explained by the equation, this person said.
         Put in an investing context, that variance, or so-called r-squared value, would mean that an investor could predict tomorrow’s stock price with almost perfect accuracy. In this case, the high r-squared means there is essentially zero unexpected variability in reported cases day after day.
           Barron’s re-created the regression analysis of total deaths caused by the virus, which first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of last year, and found similarly high variance. We ran it by Melody Goodman, associate professor of biostatistics at New York University’s School of Global Public Health.
             “I have never in my years seen an r-squared of 0.99,” Goodman says. “As a statistician, it makes me question the data.”
               Real human data are never perfectly predictive when it comes to something like an epidemic, Goodman says, since there are countless ways that a person could come into contact with the virus.
                 For context, Goodman says a “really good” r-squared, in terms of public health data, would be a 0.7. “Anything like 0.99,” she said, “would make me think that someone is simulating data. It would mean you already know what is going to happen.”
                    ... Chang’s death was not the first in his family—the Chinese media reported that Chang’s father and mother were infected and died one after the other. Chang and his sister, who looked after their parents at home, were both infected with the virus as a result. His sister died just hours later. Chang’s wife is also infected, still alive, and is still battling the virus in an intensive care unit.
                     A note written by Chang, said to be his last words, has gone viral on the Chinese Internet. Chang wrote that his father succumbed to the illness on the first day of the Lunar New Year (January 25). “My father had a fever, cough and trouble breathing. [We] tried to send him to the hospital but none of the hospitals we visited took him, because they had no more beds,” he wrote.
                       Instead, Chang brought his father home where ha died a few days later, having passed on the virus to the other family members. Chang’s note said that he and his wife were denied the opportunity to be treated early. ...
                         UP to 58 million people have been forced into indefinite lockdown in China’s Hubei province - the region at the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.
                           New lockdown measures- introduced on Sunday - dictate that only one family member can leave the house once every three days to buy supermarket essentials.
                             The province’s 200,000 rural communities - home to 24 million people - will also be sealed shut, accessible for community residents and vehicles via only one guarded entrance.
                               Similar restrictions are set to take effect on urban residential compounds.
                                  American factories in China are warning that they do not have enough staff to get their production lines fully back online as plants re-open after the extended coronavirus shutdown.
                                    Nearly 80 percent of U.S. businesses in the Shanghai area say they lack the manpower to run at full speed, according to the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. Forty-one percent said their biggest challenge in the next two to four weeks will be a lack of workers. Thirty percent said logistics issues will be their biggest concern.
                                     The lack of staff raising the prospects of disruptions to global supply chains. The economic fallout from the coronavirus could include hits to production in regions, including the U.S., where the virus itself has been scarce but which are dependent on Chinese inputs for goods. China is one of the top three suppliers, alongside Canada and Mexico, of intermediate goods that go into final products produced in the U.S. It is likely the largest supplier of intermediate goods to the U.S. economy counting its exports to third countries that produce final goods sold in the U.S.
                                       Apple said Monday it does not expect to make its quarterly revenue forecast due to lower iPhone supply globally and lower Chinese demand as a result of the coronavirus. Apple previously forecast revenue of $63 billion to $67 billion in its fiscal second quarter but did not give new guidance. Manufacturing facilities in China that produce Apple’s iPhone have reopened but are ramping up more slowly than expected, Apple said.
                                          Apple suppliers and partners are in the eye of the COVID-19 storm, said Bank of America.
                                           “This will have a ripple effect of increased uncertainty and guide-downs across the semiconductor supply chain since Apple’s warning suggests a weak demand environment in China which impacts other smartphone vendors and their respective supply chains also,” analyst Vivek Arya said in a note to clients Tuesday. “So the impact is greater than just Apple itself.”

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