10 women statisticians and data scientists who helped us understand Covid-19

Mathematician Hannah Fry, an auburn haired woman in a blue suit smiling into the camera

Effective communication was vital during the pandemic, and expert voices were needed to help the public find their way through a jungle of complex and frightening information. To coincide with the October special issue of Significance, and the first International Day of Women in Statistics and Data Science, Elpida Vounzoulaki highlights the contributions and achievements of some of the women statisticians, epidemiologists, mathematicians and data scientists who helped us understand the impact of Covid-19. There are, of course, many more than we had room for ­- and we salute every one.

Continue Reading

We’re not getting any younger! Or should that be “older”?

life stages

As state pension age in the United Kingdom continues to rise, retirement seems to be getting further and further away for many people. This brings up the question of what happens after retirement. Does the rise in pension age take away from our years of retirement, or do we also see an increase in the number of years of retirement? I decided to look at life expectancy data from the World Bank to find out if changes in pension age are in line with changes in life expectancy.

Continue Reading

How ideas from decision theory can help guide our actions

windows and doors

The UK is currently experiencing an infection wave following the co-occurrence of the highly transmissible Delta variant and the relaxation of social distancing measures. Opinions were divided on the wisdom of the decision to relax all social distancing rules in England from 19 July. Without taking a view on the policy, as statisticians we can ask how this decision was made – and in particular, whether a systems view was taken.

Continue Reading

Misinterpreting statistical anomalies and risk assessment when analysing Covid-19 deaths by ethnicity

coronavirus silhouette

Imagine there is a country called Bayesland that is divided into two distinct geographical areas – North Bayesland and South Bayesland – with equal population sizes. The country has been struck with a new, novel, infectious disease called P-STAT. Statistics reveal that the death rate for this disease for Southerners is twice that of the death rate for Northerners in each different age category (Table 1).

Continue Reading

Using Zipf’s law to help understand Covid-19

coronavirus blocks

The Covid-19 pandemic is a rapidly moving challenge. As countries and states scramble to meet this challenge in different ways, it can be difficult to follow and understand the data. Epidemiologists build models that incorporate a number of factors. But these are complex and must be updated as the data evolve.

Continue Reading