Approximately three weeks ago, Ynet published an article showing that a second coronavirus wave in Israel was well underway - and that prediction has been proven right. The current outbreak is exponential, meaning the intensity of the epidemic doubles itself at regular intervals, every ten days during the second wave and every three days during the first wave.
In order to sprove the growth is indeed exponential, we use a relative unit of measurement called "decibel", which is used among other things, to measure the volume of sound and to transmit and receive radio signals.
When using decibels to measure the spread rate of a pathogen, we must follow a specific formula: One case a day equals 0 decibels, 10 cases a day equals 10 decibels, 100 cases equals 20 decibels, 1,000 equals 30 decibels, and so on. Also, an increase by three decibels means the number of cases has doubled.
When measuring the magnitude of an epidemic in decibels, the rate of infection is easily detectable through graphs. That way the number of infected could be easily measured, be it only a few dozen patients to millions.
When measuring the number of new daily coronavirus cases in Israel from March 2020 to July 6 using decibels, the following graph is emerging:
It is easy to see the intensity of the epidemic has increased by 0.3 decibels a day over, with an average increase of three decibels every 10 days, which essentially means the number of cases has doubled every 10 days.
This data is an indication that the second coronavirus wave in Israel is indeed growing at an exponential rate.
Despite the rapid increase in the number of confirmed cases over the past five weeks, some medical experts were not convinced the numbers prove it was a start of the second wave, due to the death rate and the number of serious cases remaining relatively low.
This could be due to the fact that the second wave began when the first wave was petering off but hadn't actually ended yet.
Indeed, when you look at the number of seriously ill or the number of patients hooked up to ventilators, it is difficult to separate between those hospitalized in the first wave and those in the second.
When measuring the number of seriously ill patients using decibels, it becomes apparent the number of serious cases has risen by an average of 0.27 decibels per day over the past three weeks (orange color on the right side of the graph), compared to a 0.16 decibel rise of serious cases during the first wave (blue color in the center the graph).
These statistics are indisputable and leave no room for doubt. The intensity of the epidemic has seen a two-fold increase every ten days for the last few weeks.
A steady increase has also been recorded when it comes to the level of spread, a number of serious cases and the death rate.
The following graph shows the magnitude of the epidemic (blue) and the death rate (orange) in decibels, indicating that in the past three weeks coronavirus-related mortality has increased by about 0.3 decibels a day. In other words, 1,000 new diagnoses per day will lead to approximately 10 deaths and if the spread isn't stopped on time, that number will continue to increase.
The rate of the pathogen's spread is affected by the rate of direct human contact, especially in places considered to be virus hotspots.
A lot of coronavirus measures taken by the countries, including Israel, are focused on reducing direct human contact.
During the first wave, each confirmed carrier has infected three other people on average. During the second wave, at least do far, each confirmed case is estimated to have infected 1.4 people.
Therefore, it appears the second wave could be thwarted at a lower economic cost than what the country paid during the first wave.
The government must take steps to regulate the amount of direct contact between people and make those contacts, if they are unavoidable, as safe as possible.
Therefore, once we've found a way how to reduce the spread at the lowest possible economic cost, we will have to adhere to it even when the number of new infections is down.
And so, here are the number of things we can do as people to reduce the rate of infection:
1. Wear masks. Studies show that using masks significantly reduces the risk of infection when coming into contact with a carrier.
2. Reducing the number of people we meet with every week by half, since many of our meetings are not essential.
3. Meeting in open areas or online. Research shows that the chances of infection in open spaces are much lower than in confined spaces.
4. If the place you live becomes a virus hotspot, direct contact with others must be significantly reduced.
5. Explaining to children that safe conduct protects the family and contributes to saving lives.
If we, as a people, adopt all of these recommendations - in addition to maintaining strict hygiene and social distancing rules - we will help curb the epidemic and fully open up the economy.
Each and every one of us has the ability to help curb the virus' spread. Every meeting we manage to cut and every time we put a mask on when leaving the house, contribute to the containment efforts and could help save lives.