Making sense of COVID-19 numbers

Image for post
Image for post

There are a lot of numbers floating around about COVID-19 and the impact on people. Some of that is confusing, some of it can even be considered misleading. What is the right way to look at it and how can you evaluate how the country you are living is doing in fighting the pandemic? And how about the chances of surviving for those who get infected?

In my opinion, the best way of looking at the effectiveness of containing the spread, or flatten the curve, is to look at the share of infected / deceased people per country compared to the global numbers and the share of the global population.

Image for post
Image for post

These numbers show that countries like the USA, Brazil and the UK have a much larger share in the infected and deceased people than their share in the global population would explain. This also shows that when we compare this to for example Germany, a country which responded relatively quick and consistent, the real impact of their measures to contain the spread and flatten the curve is rather bad and most certainly can not be explained by the amount of tests being done. Especially not because Germany is outperforming all others in daily test per population…

Image for post
Image for post

As soon as we consider the overshoot by deducting the actual share in global population from the actual share in deceased and infected people, the picture gets even grimmer. Especially the UK failed to contain the spread, which is no surprise with the “herd immunity” strategy of the British Government, or “take it on the chin, let it move through the population in one big wave” as Boris Johnson explained his approach in the first months of the crisis.

The USA, appraising itself every single day for its great performance, has on weighted overshoot of 5 times in share of the global deceased and infections compared to its share in the global population. And that has nothing to do with the amount of tests being done. Look at Germany for a benchmark!

It gets however even grimmer when we look at the chances of survival once you get infected by COVID-19. In this comparison, Brazil and Germany have a deceased / infection ratio of below 5%, meaning that there is over 95% chance of survival when a person gets infected. The USA is with little over 5% ratio not the greatest country in the world but still among the better performers when it comes to treating COVID-19.

One country stands out in a very negative way and not just in this comparison. We have to search long through the data provided by John Hopkins to find a country which performs worse than the UK when it comes to healing infected patients. There aren’t that many. Not even Italy and Spain, the worst hit European countries, are this bad!

Image for post
Image for post

How could this happen? There will be many reasons and the hard working staff of the NHS is definitely not the reason for this horrible failure of the healthcare system in the UK. What definitely has a very high impact on this disaster are a decade of mismanagement by the Conservative Government and the disastrous leadership by Boris Johnson.

See also this article where you might find some answers.

Written by

Dad, consultant, coach, speaker, author. Mainly Cyber Security, leadership, responsible tech and organizational change. https://johannesdrooghaag.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store