Transformed Time Series Analysis of First Wave COVID-19: Universal Similarities Found in The Group of Twenty (G20) Countries
Author(s): Albert S. Kim
As of April 30, 2020, cumulative confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases exceeded 3 million worldwide and 1 million in the US, with an estimated fatality rate of more than 7 percent. Because the occurrence patterns of new confirmed cases and deaths over time are complex and seemingly country-specific, estimating the long-term pandemic spread is challenging. I developed a simple transformation algorithm to investigate the characteristics of the case and death time series per nation and described the universal similarities observed in the transformed time series of 19 nations in the Group of Twenty (G20). A transformation algorithm of the time series data sets was developed with open-source software programs to investigate the universal similarities among the cumulative profiles of confirmed cases and deaths of 19 individual nations in the G20. The algorithm extracted and analyzed statistical information from daily updated COVID-19 pandemic data sets from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Two new parameters for each nation were suggested as factors for time-shifting and time-scaling to define reduced time, which was used to quantify the degree of universal similarities among nations. After the cumulative confirmed case and death profiles of a nation were transformed by using reduced time, most of the 19 nations, with few exceptions, had transformed profiles that closely converged to those of Italy after the onset of cases and deaths. The initial profiles of the cumulative confirmed cases per nation universally showed 3 to 4-week latency periods, during which the total number of cases remained at approximately ten. The latency period of the cumulative number of deaths was approximately half the latency number of cumulative cases, and subsequent uncontrollable increases in human deaths seemed unavoidable because the coronavirus had already widely spread. Immediate governmental actions, including responsive public-health policymaking and enforcement, are observed to be critical to minimize (and possibly stop) further infections and subsequent deaths. In the pandemic spread of infectious viral diseases, such as COVID-19, studied in this work, different nations show dissimilar and seemingly uncorrelated time series profiles of infected cases and deaths. After these statistical phenomena were viewed as identical events occurring at a distinct rate in each country, the reported algorithm of the data transformation using the reduced time revealed a nation-independent, universal profile (especially initial periods of the pandemic spread) from which a nation-specific, predictive estimation could be made and used to assist in immediate public-health policymaking.