May 11

Data Around COVID-19 Is a Mess and Here’s Why That Matters

By Lisa Cornish, Sara Jerving, Jenny Lei Ravelo

Infections from the coronavirus have now passed 4 million globally, with deaths now running over 270,000. But experts warn these figures — used to understand the spread and impact of the pandemic — need to be treated with caution.

Data plays a critical role in the COVID-19 response. Researchers rely on case data to make predictions of how many people will likely be infected by the virus. Governments use this information to identify policies and measures they need to adopt and implement in their countries’ contexts. Aid organizations use data to help understand needs and target their interventions.

But their analyses and responses are only as good as the data at hand. So if there is underreporting of deaths in a country, modeling analyses picking up that data will likely underreport deaths in their predictions, said Nilanjan Chatterjee, a Bloomberg distinguished professor at Johns Hopkins University.

And that will have an impact on how governments prepare for the pandemic.

Photo courtesy of Chris Potter.

Source: Devex (link opens in a new window)

data, public health, public policy, research