With the rapid global spread of Covid-19 in recent weeks, many comparisons have been made between the number of cases in different countries. Italy was one of the first in Europe to be badly hit by the pandemic and imposed a full lockdown on 12 March. The effects of Covid-19 were felt later in the UK, with the lockdown coming on 24 March. It is therefore of interest to compare the progress of the disease in Italy to the countries of the UK. To do this we use publicly available data1,2 and statistical models including logistic growth to address the questions, “Is the increase in the number of documented cases of Covid-19 slowing down?” and “How soon do changes follow from lockdowns?”.
During his 26 March call into "The Sean Hannity Show" on Fox News, President Donald Trump questioned whether New York state would actually need the tens of thousands of ventilators its state's leaders had estimated would be necessary to deal with its expected number of coronavirus cases. Then, three days later during a briefing at the White House, Trump said: "Something's going on, and you ought to look into it as reporters. Where are the masks going? Are they going out the back door? How do you go from 10,000 to 300,000?"
In many parts of the world, the outcome of the Covid-19 outbreak has a lot to do with the choices people make about social distancing and obeying restrictions, as well as choices about their own personal care, such as maintaining a more thorough approach to handwashing or, more controversially, when it is appropriate to wear a mask. Those decisions will be influenced by each individual’s knowledge and beliefs, which – in turn – are shaped by the information they receive from government, from healthcare professionals, and from the media.
The pandemic of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) triggered by the SARS-CoV-2 virus has forced the governments of many states to introduce measures of social distancing that restrict personal mobility. In the absence of a vaccine or effective treatments, limiting the interaction between individuals is one of the few tools available to combat the epidemic and to plan a return to normality.
The Royal Statistical Society’s Statistical Ambassadors have collated an essential guide for understanding statistics about Covid-19. Here, they list definitions, things to look out for, and what you should do about the numbers you are seeing.