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Editor's Note: This is a complimentary research note published by Director of Research Daryl Jones on May 27th. CLICK HERE to get daily COVID-19 analysis and alerts from our research team and access our related webcasts.

“May you live in interesting times.”
- English Expression 


  • We took a more extended break from our COVID-19 updates mostly because the data was largely similar from day-to-day.  The data itself is now getting more interesting, with some good and some bad.
  • Globally, we are at 5,718,885 cases.  This is up about 1 million from our last report on 5/15/2020.  The last week has seen the highest number of new cases globally in any weekly period since the start of the epidemic.
  • The U.S., with some caveats discussed below, is generally seeing improved metrics across the board with more testing and lower daily new cases.  This is largely being driven by a dramatic improvement in the tri-state area.
  • Continental Europe has very positive data across the board with most countries in the low hundreds of daily new cases and the number patients healed larger than those patients that are still sick.  On a relative basis, Europe is in a much better position than the U.S.
  • Japan, which went to a state of emergency in mid-April after a flare up in the first week of April, is now registering less than 100 new cases per day.
  • Brazil continues to be a proverbial train wreck and now has the second most positive tests behind the United States, with very low testing in general.

COVID-19 Update – Getting Interesting Again (5/27/2020) - 01.27.2020 coronavirus cartoon  1


The U.S. has performed 14.9 million tests, 1.67 million positive results (11% positive test rate), and just 100,000 deaths (morbidity rate on positive tests of 6%)

    • Deaths is a widely debated topic, which some suggest have been understated and others suggesting have been over-stated.  But in general deaths per population in the U.S. matches the harder hit European nations.

While U.S. cases continue to grow in the 20,000 case range per day, this is in part a factor of substantially more testing.  The month-over-month testing is up between 50 – 80% depending on the day.  As the chart below shows, with this ramp in testing the positive test rate has dropped meaningfully alongside daily new cases.

COVID-19 Update – Getting Interesting Again (5/27/2020) - cv1

In aggregate, while the U.S. has been hit harder and improved slower than much of the world, the high-level statistics and trends are encouraging.

    • But there is still an open ended question as to whether R0 in the U.S. is above 1, this analysis suggests Russia, the U.S., Brazil, Peru, India, and Chile are the most at risk of a spread re-accelerating.

On that point, the prospective question is now whether easing social distancing and a gradual re-opening increases the spread (or increases the spread higher than manageable by the hospital system).  Early evidence does suggest that we are seeing some increase in spread in certain states.

    • Currently according to rt.live, they are nine states with a R0 above 1 -> AR, TN, AL, UT, TX, WV, ND, ME, and AZ.  Four weeks ago there were five.

Below we’ve posted the charts of Texas and New York.   Texas in general is on a flat to upwards slope of daily new cases, while New York, after being hit much harder, has seen its daily case load drop more than 80% off the peak.

Conceptually, if you remove New York from the totals, the U.S. isn’t at a meaningfully lower place in daily new cases than it was 6 – 8 weeks ago because many states have a long plateau similar to Texas.

COVID-19 Update – Getting Interesting Again (5/27/2020) - cv2

COVID-19 Update – Getting Interesting Again (5/27/2020) - cv3


In contrast to Europe, Asia and the United States, global daily new cases continue an upward trajectory.  In part, there is more testing, but it’s also the reality of serious outbreaks in emerging markets.

COVID-19 Update – Getting Interesting Again (5/27/2020) - cv4

Brazil has slid into second behind the United States with the most COVID-19 cases at 394,507.

    • Currently Brazil has done only 4,100 tests per million people (the U.S. is 12x that) and its positive test rate is just over 45%
    • It’s morbidity rate on positive cases is right around 6.5%
    • It goes without saying, but the situation in Brazil is much more dire than the official statistics indicate

A good article on the dysfunction (sadly) in Brazil.

Russian now has the third most COVID-19 cases behind Brazil at 370,680.  Russia, though, has been doing massive testing at a rate that is currently about 35% higher than the U.S., so for Russia the high case count is largely a function of a lot of testing.

    • Russia is only reporting 27 deaths per million people, which, even considering the high testing levels, seems low.  It “feels” unlikely that Spain (similarly high testing levels) would have a death rate 20x of Russia, as an example.

Other areas of concern:

    • India 157,510 growing at 3 – 5%.  Very low testing and death rate
    • Pakistan 59,151 same story as India
    • Mexico has 74,000 cases and has only done 235,000 total tests.  Death rate is north of 10%
    • Peru and Chile are growing at higher rates, but have also done decent levels of testing, though their death rates look understated

Europe and Asia

It’s hard to believe that Asia and Europe are now the proverbial afterthoughts, but so goes the path of the pandemic.

Spain, Italy, Germany, France, and the rest of Europe look to be in very good shape with high levels of testing, deaths slowing, and daily new cases trickling in.

    • Collectively those four countries had ~2,200 new cases yesterday, which at the peak would have been ~35,000+

The United Kingdom is later in the curve, more akin to the United States, but has also shown meaningful improvement over the last couple weeks.

In Asia while there have been small flare ups in Japan, Singapore, parts of China, and South Korea, it has all been contained quickly.