Editor's Note: This is a complimentary research note published by Director of Research Daryl Jones on May 15th. CLICK HERE to get daily COVID-19 analysis and alerts from our research team and access our related webcasts.

“A journey is like a marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”
- John Steinbeck


  • Globally, there are currently 4,570,629 positively diagnosed cases of COVID-19 and there have been 304,857 declared deaths.  Daily new cases have continued to stay in the general range of 85,000 – 95,000
  • Total U.S. cases now sit at 1,461,870 and 87,074 deaths.  While U.S. cases increased a bit yesterday, they remain on the new lower trend
  • Daily new cases across Western Europe continue to hit new lows and the U.K., while still at a higher point on the curve, is following suit
  • Conversely, the global hot spots continue to be a concern.  Yesterday, Brazil reported its highest daily new case count since the start of the epidemic
  • The next few weeks into early June will provide critical data on whether the re-opening in much of the West, and social distant guidelines in place, are enough to keep the spread of COVID-19 at an R0 of near or below 1

COVID-19 Update – Good News in Most of the World, Except Emerging Markets (5/15/2020) - 01.29.2020 bull bear virus cartoon  1


As the chart below highlights, the U.S. is clearly on a sustained path of lower daily cases.  This is, to some extent, bifurcated as the hardest regions have improved meaningfully, while some areas, like Texas, are still seeing relatively high increases.

COVID-19 Update – Good News in Most of the World, Except Emerging Markets (5/15/2020) - covid.5.15.1

In total, the U.S. has done 10.3 million COVID-19 tests with 1.4 million positives (13.9% positive test rate) and 80,084 deaths (5.7% morbidity rate on total positives).   While the U.S. still lags other major countries in test per population, yesterday tests hit a new daily high at 366,000.

While the general trend in the U.S. is positive, we did want to highlight Texas as a state where the trend is less great.  This week Texas hit its highest one day increase in cases and appears to be trending higher, which is likely a function of increased testing and increased mobility has shelter in place orders have expired.

    • It is quite possible this combination of opening the economy despite elevated cases is the right mix for Texas (and perhaps will be for much of the country as we are all seemingly going down the path of Sweden)

COVID-19 Update – Good News in Most of the World, Except Emerging Markets (5/15/2020) - covid.5.15.2

Currently only Wyoming (small numbers obviously) and Minnesota have a R0 (transmission rate) above 1.

European Situation

Across Western Europe the data continues to improve and active cases are well off their peak:

    • Spain active cases 58,000, down 42% from the peak
    • Italian active cases 76,000, down 27% from the peak
    • Germany active cases 16,000, down 70% from the peak
    • While actives cases are reported differently across countries, all of Western Europe is showing similarly positive trends

Russia is on the other end of the spectrum continuing to hit near daily new highs in cases and continues to grow its active case count.

    • Now the positive is that Russia has absolutely crushed it with testing (30% higher than the U.S.) so its positive test rate is low
    • The large-scale testing efforts have led to, so far, a much lower morbidity rate in Russia

COVID-19 Update – Good News in Most of the World, Except Emerging Markets (5/15/2020) - covid.5.15.3

Since we are all basically becoming Sweden in our health policy, social distancing guidelines in place but economy open, it’s worth checking in on Sweden.

    • Sweden – Cases per million 2,894 and deaths per million at 361
    • Denmark – Cases per million 1,864 and deaths per million at 93
    • Norway – Cases per million 1,515 and deaths per million at 43
    • Finland – Cases per million 1,124 and deaths per million at 53

So, while Sweden has worse outcomes than her peers, its not meaningfully so and the Swedes have largely threaded the needle of lowering case count over time and keeping the economy somewhat open.

Rest of the World Situation

Since late March, there has been no real change in the trend of daily new cases of COVID-19.   As the chart below shows, the range has generally been between 80,000 to 95,000 per day.

Overall this isn’t necessarily bad news as some countries are improving, there is more testing occurring (uncovering more positives), and some areas are just early on the curve.

COVID-19 Update – Good News in Most of the World, Except Emerging Markets (5/15/2020) - covid.5.15.4

As we’ve been writing for some time, this portion of the COVID-19 story is going to end in the emerging markets and we haven’t seen a lot of improvement on that front since our last note.

    • Brazil hit a new daily high in cases yesterday at 13,761
    • India has had its five-day period of new cases in the last five days
    • Pakistan had its highest one day increase in cases two days ago
    • Bangladesh continues to hit new highs in daily cases

Nothing new to report in Asia as the epidemic remains largely contained.  Singapore which had a resurgence starting in mid-April is well below its daily highs in new cases as the chart below highlights.