Brisk increase in numbers may indicate fresh wave says statistician

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Statistician Dr Vince Marmarà told Newsbook.com.mt that the R-rate for the COVID-19 virus is currently 0.67. He said that the numbers of COVID-19 contagion which have accrued over this week have affected his earlier measurements of the R-factor of this virus. In an extensive interview, Dr Marmarà explained the methodology used to calculate the reproductive factor of this virus. His main contention is that the R-factor comes into serious play when the contagion is not contained in defined clusters but spreads in the community. He added that if the numbers continue to increase in the coming days, the R-factor will go above one.

A new cycle

Dr Marmarà explained that the COVID-19 does not behave like influenza which peaks once and peters out. COVID-19 may have several peaks and, Dr Marmarà said that at this juncture having passed three peaks, it appears that Malta is entering into a new COVID-19 cycle. He said this is a particular time and an important turning point. He explained that in the previous three peaks, Malta managed to control the spread successfully. He said that the R-factor needs to be calculated by cycles since to include previous data may skew the readings. At this point, it appears that Malta is entering a new COVID-19 cycle since there is a spread of the virus within the community rather than just a cluster. Dr Marmarà said that there are now various clusters with the contagion and, coupled with the community spread, this seems to be the watershed for when the R-factor needs to be calculated again and be taken into account.

The coming days are crucial

Over the past few weeks, the rate of increase in the R-factor, according to Dr Marmarà happened at a brisk pace. He said that while there is no cause for alarm, the reality is that the numbers are increasing with clusters which include origins in feasts and parties. He shelved the contagion among the immigrants in that this, he explained was very circumscribed and would not affect the community. He said that the fact that numbers are increasing but calculations need to be carried out carefully since the current situation is not comparable to the original peak of April. “This is why at this point, it is very important to see how influential the role of clusters is in the increase in numbers,” said Dr Marmarà. The biggest problem, he said were those who have the virus and are not isolated or quarantined but are operative within the community. “If the numbers continue to increase in the coming days, then we can definitely say we are in a new cycle and the R-factor will definitely go above one,” said the statistician.

Cautious approach for a balanced reading

Dr Marmarà refuted the thesis that he was being too conservative with the numbers. He said that jumping to conclusions helps no one but, in these cases,, the impacts of these clusters need to assessed in the balance of the economy. He added that the interpretations need to be carefully made so that the results are certain and reliable.