Who Wants a Million Cases?
Updated: Mar 29
When I was home in Ireland in December, I kept comparing Coronavirus cases in the locality to a reverse pyramid and compared it to the gameshow Who Wants to be a Millionaire.
I always like to try and find metaphors and similar situations to compare things and certainly in the case of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, people start out small and things can quickly reach new heights where a million or half a million is soon on offer and I kept saying to my parents that once Coronavirus was in the community then it is literally gameover with few lifelines to call in.
Over 15 rounds of questions, people were able to win as little as €100 or as much as €1,000,000 and while reaching a million euros or pounds or dollars might seem impossble as you use all your lifelines and call all your friends, at least a dozen people in America answered all the their questions correctly.
The 64,000 dollar question is why don´t we just call a friend instead of meeting with them? Why don´t we reduce meetings and gatherings by 50 percent? What are people actually playing at?
Coronavirus is now in the community and what starts out as a 100 can quickly become 200 then 300 and then 500 before doubling to a thousand. Doubling again to 2,000 and again to 4,000 and then 8,000 and then suddenly 16,000 and 32,000 before we reach the 64,000 question.
Do we really want to continue to go o playing this game?
There are now only four rounds from 64,000 to a million as we double up when we should be doubling down. Ok doubling down is a reference to Blackjack and I should stick to one risky game at a time but let´s look at the way Professor Hugh Montgomery described it in a Channel 4 interview.
He said that if he got sick with the flu he could expect to pass it on to an estimated 1.3 to 1.4 people who would then spread it to another 1.3 to 1.4 people who would continue to spread the virus. After ten rounds of spreading this virus, he would be responsible for spreading it to about 14 people.
He then described Coronavirus as being similar but slightly higher where he could expect to spread it to three people who would then spread it to three more people and so on and so on and so on.
After ten rounds of the virus being spread in this way, he could expect to infect over 59,000 people and as shocking as this news was 12 months ago, we have continued to play around and I would ask everyone to do the maths with me and use a calculator if needs be.
One by three equals three, multiplied by three equals nine. Nine by three equals 27 which equals 81 when multiplied by three. We are already moving into triple digit figures after five rounds as 81 by three equals 243. It starts small but quickly spirals out of control.
243 people could then infect another three people giving a total of 729 before moving into four figure growth where the 2,187 they have infected now infect 6,561 people who go on to infect
19,683 who could infect 59,049. The next leap would jump to six figure growth but let´s quit while we´re ahead and the 64,000 dollar question should be, when will this ever stop?
Even after a year of phoning your boss and limiting capacity by 50 percent, the figures continue to rise and I thank god that this isn´t something more deadlier than Coronavirus or the common flu.
The Channel 4 interview with Professor Montgomery was broadcast a year ago on the 22nd of March but how many people were listening to his warning when we have seen people partying throughout this pandemic and leadership around the world dismissing the seriousness of the situation?
Luckily many who get Coronavirus will survive it but there is no prize for the millions of people who have already died from it or those who continue to suffer from it.
There are no prizes for guessing when this will end and I find the worrying thing is that as the cases rise, so does the risk of mutations and we don´t know where that could take us.
As I said in December, my hometown was very lucky with such low numbers but once it is the community, the only way is up and the sad fact is that not all communities are equipped to hospitalise their sick and the three friends that they infected.
You might never look at your three times tables again but do keep it in mind when something more potent infects the community in the future and it might just save your life.
Just like Who Wants to be a Millionaire which was created by David Briggs, Steven Knight and Mike Whitehill, this gameshow was quickly spread around the world but unlike the game, we have some hard questions to ask ourselves about luck and lifelines as we continue towards a million cases.
Ireland has had 232,164 cases and Russia has had as many cases as Ireland has people while the USA edition of this show has seen 30 million cases and 558,422 deaths.
America and China with hundreds of millions of people would be happy with only a million cases but we can´t keep Dublin the number of cases or else we will end up like England with 4,312,908 cases.
Sadly there are several countries who have had almost as many cases of the virus than Ireland has people with Russia, France and the UK in Europe alone reporting 4,492,692, 4,378,446 and 4,312,908 cases respectavely.
Meanwhile, people and businesses are losing money on this inverted pyramid as places remain closed. I want to break free, I want it all and I want to ride my bicyle but unfortunately no one can answer the question, when will people stop playing around and when will this end?