Actuarial modelling warns of up to 20,000 COVID-19 carriers

Actuaries Institute has announced it has set up the COVID-19 working group to help advise members seeking to understand the impact of the COVID-19, with a new approach to modelling confirming there could be up to 20,000 carriers of the virus in Australia. 

According to Douglas Isles, an actuary and investment specialist at Platinum Asset Management, the modelling suggested that, as of 9 April, there might have been around 20,000 carriers of COVID-19 in Australia, a number much higher than the 3,000 or so active cases reported. 

Isles’ model was based on a number of authoritative sources including the Australian government's Department of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO), Australian Department of Health data showing 330,000 people had been tested for COVID-19 at 9 April, 2020. At that time, there were 6,103 confirmed cases, 51 deaths and 2,987 recoveries. 

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By applying a carrier mortality rate estimate of 0.5% to the data on Australian COVID-19 deaths suggested there may have been around 400 new carriers per day in the week to 12 March, and 800 per day in the week to 19 March. This meant it was likely there were around 10,000 carriers by 19 March, and by 9 April, more likely 20,000 carriers.  

“For COVID-19 we have a sample of 330,000 people tested, which is over 1% of the population. It is reasonable for the public to expect to be provided with health experts' estimates of community infection rather than focusing purely on confirmed cases,” Isles said. 

Those risks need to be better understood before authorities decide when and how to relax current restrictions, an issue looming large for policymakers, Isles stressed. 

Elayne Grace, Actuaries Institute’s chief executive, said that a working group would help advise its professional members, industry and policymakers, who are seeking to understand the impact of the virus on society and economy.    

“We are looking at community health aspects, but also how the virus impacts business sectors as diverse as health, insurance and superannuation, and how policy changes may impact individuals, businesses and communities,” she added. 

“The Actuaries Institute working group will also undertake assessments and approaches that can help governments and other groups manage Australia’s eventual end to this lockdown period and ensure the impacts are as limited as possible.” 

The Actuaries Institute's COVID-19 working group would involve a core group of 13 actuaries, supported by a further 50 actuaries working on a wide range of issues, advising business leaders, regulators and policymakers. 

Actuaries applied math, statistics, economics and financial analysis to a wide range of business and public policy issues and used complex data sets to evaluate risk. 


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