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The Fascinating Story of the Oscillating Epidemic. (it is true that complex systems always surprise you!)

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I was surprised, today, to find this graph on Google. What struck me was the evident periodicity in the number of deaths in the US. It is the same if we look at the number of new casesIt is clear just by the raw data that the periodicity is weekly. A Fourier analysis (courtesy of Riccardo Zamolo) confirms that (for those of you unfamiliar with the Fourier analysis, let's just say it detects the frequencies of a periodic phenomenon)But what causes this periodicity? Initially, I thought it was a question of reporting: maybe hospitals are understaffed on weekends and the reports of new deaths are postponed. But I quickly discarded that hypothesis: the number of deaths peaks mostly on Thursdays and Fridays and that can't have anything to do with underreporting occurring on Sundays. And you would think that a virus doesn't know which day of the week it is when it infects a person. Unless the little beasties are much smarter than we think!So, I scratched my head for a while, looking for other cases with similar trends. I didn't perform a complete search (if readers can suggest further cases, please do that in the comments), but I couldn't find any such periodic oscillations for most European countries. Then, eventually I did find one: Sweden. Here are the data (on Google we only have data for new infections, not for deaths).And yes, the same weekly cycle of oscillations we see for the US.Now, what do Sweden and the US have in common? Maybe they both have a tradition of sacrificing their elders to some dark deities on Thursdays but, more likely it has to do with the way the lockdown was implemented in these countries. As you know, Sweden implemented a very light lockdown, the US had different rules for different states and cities, but the "hard" lockdown was strongly resisted.So, a possible explanation emerges: in those regions where there is little or no lockdown. people maintain their weekly rhythm of working and moving around. It is a periodicity that is reflected in. . .

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News source: Cassandra's Legacy

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