The graph above is extracted from the presentation given during the UK government’s Covid-19 press conference on Wednesday 6 May. It shows the cumulative number of deaths per million population for a number of countries.
The UK is doing badly on that measure, as it’s just below Spain. But it doesn’t appear to be doing very much worse than the US. Neither does the difference between Germany and the UK seem fantastically dramatic. It appears that Japan and South Korea are doing quite badly as well.
However, the graph is using a logarithmic scale (or log scale), which is a way of displaying numerical data over a very wide range of values in a compact way—typically the largest numbers in the data are hundreds or even thousands of times larger than the smallest numbers. The numbers 10 and 100, and 100 and 1000 are equally spaced.
If the graph is redrawn using a standard scale, things look dramatically different:
The UK is still the second worst, but look how the gap between the UK (red line) and the USA (brown dashes) has dramatically widened, as has the gap between the UK and Germany (amber line). The death rates in Korea (blue line) and Japan (hidden by Korea) appear to be virtually zero. They’re not of course, but they aren’t yet in double digits.
Using a log scale tells a completely different story, and can be highly misleading. I wonder whether the original graphic was deliberately designed to be misleading?
Note: The government’s figures came from John Hopkins University and Public Health England (PHE). Mine are from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), so they might be slightly different.
This graph shows the value of R in Germany before they relaxed their lockdown rules (the amber line) and after they were relaxed (the blue line). The red horizontal line represents an R value of one. If R is higher than one the infection is still spreading exponentially. If it’s lower than one the spread is slowing and will eventually die out. The goal is keep the R value below one and to lower it as much as possible.
The slight rise in the German COVID-19 R value on 27 April to just below one prompted news reporting such as this in the British press:
“WAVE OF FEAR Germany faces having to bring BACK strict coronavirus lockdowns as cases surge just days after easing them”.
“Germany has seen a worrying rise in its coronavirus infection rate after becoming one of the first countries in Europe to start easing lockdown measures”
This sort of misleading, and frequently sensationalist, reporting is rife, ands gets repeated ad nauseam online, and particularly on social media.
Unfortunately some people inform their decision making based on reading stories such as these, rather than relying on facts.
For those who would like to know the source of my data, it’s taken from the website of the Robert Koch Institut (RKI) in Germany and is available in German and English:
The facts and figures on COVID-19 that the RKI publishes on a daily basis makes the UK’s efforts to do the same seem inadequate.
EDIT: I’ll be updating the graph on a regular basis. So far the R-value shows no sign of increasing
The CNN reporting on Boris Johnson’s condition from outside St Thomas’ hospital near the Houses of Parliament. Note how their correspondent is disregarding government advice regarding self-isolation for pregnant women. Note also how the police to be seen later in the video are conspicuously not following government rules re social distancing. None of this shows good role models.
A better picture of the South Molton NHS hashtag seen from space. This was copied from the BBC website and was doubtless taken from a satellite operating much closer to earth than the one that the previous picture came from.
The Govier’s NHS hashtag in South Molton seen from space.
What a plonker I am – not #NFU but #NHS. Well done the Goviers, and of course a massive thank you to all the NHS staff who are working so hard under very difficult circumstances!! A lesson on the dangers of jumping to conclusions based on incomplete information.
This has appeared in a nearby field. South Molton’s answer to a crop circle? It seems to be a hashtag followed by a letter N:
If this story is true (http://dailym.ai/39r72p8), it’s an absolute disgrace and the officer should be disciplined. He’s a sergeant for heaven’s sake!! Obviously born without any common sense whatsoever.
The other examples are pretty dire as well. No evidence of the officers obeying the two meter separation rule. Maybe they’re like Rees-Mogg and only understand imperial measures! For those who need clarification two meters is about six and a half feet.
To keep you amused. I think I know all the answers – but I’m not 100% sure about the bonus question.
Many thanks to whoever thought this up.
Unfortunately my ‘before’ is more like the video’s ‘after’!