As the world tries to understand more about the trajectory of the coronavirus, a study from the Engineering faculty of Imperial College London has come up with a new hypothesis that, they say, fits a large number of countries so far. Prof Tom Pike found that once lockdown begins, coronavirus follows a similar pattern to Wuhan in several countries surveyed.

The model has significant — and grim — implications for New York State. Until recently, the US released nationwide figures on coronavirus infections and deaths. When the figures for individual states were released, it showed the virus was more widespread in New York than had been previously understood. When Prof Pike applies the Wuhan pattern to New York, it suggests deaths there peaking at around 1,000 a day in late April, with 18,000 to 30,000 deaths in total. This compares to a peak of about 150 deaths a day recorded in China, while Italy has seen over 900 deaths in a single day.

As always, caveats apply to such studies. We are in early days, with fairly rudimentary data: Prof Pike’s study stresses that this whole area is riddled with uncertainties. His speciality is in producing planetary data from a small number of measurements, so his modeling is relevant here precisely because the input data is so sparse and of such variable quality. He is simply saying that, if New York followed the Wuhan trajectory, this is the timetable and severity that it can expect. The study regards the Wuhan pattern as relevant because it fits the data published by several other countries so far and likely represents a best-case scenario in terms of implementing a stringent lockdown. But the figures are liable to revision: the last couple of days have seen projections for the UK death count rise. The other caveat is that he takes published data, and runs with national definitions of COVID-related deaths. The study makes no judgements about the efficacy of policies, etc. But his projections are certainly of relevance to Americans trying to understand the situation, and what might lie ahead.

This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.