Covid-19 status in Europe and ranking confusions

I it is very tempting to state country X leads in Covid-19 deaths or detected cases since it makes a flashy headline. However for the sake of understanding the situation, one should realize over which period was the ranking calculated and how significant is the difference between leader and others.

Chart below shows estimated number of Covid-19 ill in selected European countries. I believe true ranking should be build over entire pandemic duration (March 2020 till now, 23.11) using maximum value in this period. This ranking is shown on cart legend after country name. Countries are sorted top down according to latest reading to make country line location easier. Poland is 2nd in group on the day of reading, but only 12 in overall ranking. Poland 10 thousands ill per million is less than 50% of Belgium maximum (22 thousands per million). Belgium passed the peak and is trending down. Poland may have reached the peak, but we need to wait a couple of days to confirm downtrend. Tomorrow we may see Poland with highest number of ill in the group, yet its figure will be lower than today, just Switzerland figure was dropping faster.

Chart below shows daily deaths 7 days moving average for same country group as above. Averaging eliminates some data noise, countries like Belgium tend to provide preliminary data, they are revised (up) later. Averaging eliminates wild swings between last reading and previous ones. If tomorrow news flashes Poland has most deaths don’t let it deceive you. Currently Czechia, Poland, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and France have very similar Covid-19 death count.

Conclusions

  1. Don’t focus on single number, look at time evolution and compare with other data.
  2. If somebody tries to convince you situation ins bad in particular country have a look at numbers and compare it with others.
  3. Sweden has neither compulsory mask nor lock down, yet it is doing quite well in above statistics. Some people don’t like Swedish approach and the are quite vocal. If you see another lament on desperate situation in Sweden recall the data and try to guess why the author tries to convince you Sweden is in serious trouble.

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