Executive Education


7 Apr 2020

The coronavirus ‘Doomsday’ clock: Are we approaching a period of new hope?

6april clock

Britain has now moved past 1pm on the coronavirus clock.

We have moved 2.21mins since last Monday, but what does that tell us about the pandemic?

Today, many media outlets are expressing hope for the future, after the US moved forward (1.74 minutes from 3.09 to 4.83) with levelling-off of cases.

According to the official Government figures, as of 9am on 5 April 2020, 195,524 people have been tested, of which 47,806 were confirmed positive.

We have also had 4,934 deaths.

The issue, however, is that there is no quality data on UK recoveries.

The Government has published some minimal data and Johns Hopkins provides estimates, but the actual figures are likely much higher, so we could be doing much better than we think.

Dr Jon Seaton, of Loughborough’s School of Business and Economics, said: “The updated clock (above) measures exit from the ‘case’ process – from both recoveries plus fatalities relative to the total number of cases or entries into the process.

“Recoveries come late to the process, deaths come earlier and the peak in cases before that.

“So, moving towards 15-20 mins past and half past the hour means a great deal on our clock journey as that often implies increasing rates of recoveries.

“The new hope for the UK is that taking into account estimates of recoveries – granted these are estimates based on a small sample of similar journeys by nations ahead of us in the journey – we find the UK may be progressing more quickly.

“Indeed, looking at similar levels of cases in six key nations we can construct a time interval, based on estimated recoveries plus cases and fatalities, which implies the UK could have progressed to between 11 and 16 minutes rather than about 6.4 minutes.”

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair today called for the appointment of a Minister for Testing on BBC Radio 4.

Dr Seaton said: “It is understandable that efforts on testing should be geared more towards diagnosis if we are under-resourced and overstretched.

“Checking for potential new cases is one thing, but no one has so far discussed the key testing for recoveries, which are not being monitored.

"We do need to know how many have recovered so we can get them to work and start the economy rolling – these numbers matter.”

How the clock works:

The ever-changing gauge reveals the journey to recovery of numerous states including China, America, Germany and the UK.

It shows periods of high infection (between noon and 3pm), increased recovery and fewer deaths (3pm – 6pm) and low-levels of illness (6pm – midnight).

Reaching midnight means the virus has been eradicated – with peak recovery time being between quarter past and quarter to the hour.

It does not necessarily give a prediction as to the amount of time it will take the pandemic to disappear for each nation.

However, China – whose 12 hours is almost up – began its journey on November 17, 2019 – 141 days, or 4.6 months, ago.