Dealing with Data: Covid-19 Alert

Nusrat Jahan Pritom

3rd October, 2020 12:25:31 printer

Dealing with Data: Covid-19 Alert

Imagine living few hundred years back. Suppose there was a pandemic and you were in it. Times must have been very dark then. There was not enough data to analyse the situation. A pandemic only meant that a wave of destruction has been encompassing a total area. Perhaps some traveller had brought in news from next town that a novel disease was killing people there and now may be heading towards your town. Perhaps you had heard that your neighbour’s in-laws’ cousin died from the virus. But all these used to be tell-tales. There was no way of accessing comprehensive data that would have helped to assess and mitigate the crisis.

Fast forward few hundred years, we are now living at such a time in our lives where all we need to do is simply click few keys on the keyboard and we will have all the data we need regarding the ongoing pandemic. Sitting at home, we know what’s happening in USA, how many people had been infected by Covid-19 and many other things. A world corona meter keeps daily track of which country is worst effected and which is doing better than its peers. This helps many people make better choices and decisions. Travellers, for example, can be more alert and use precaution when travelling to countries that are worse affected by Covid-19.

Adequate data collection also helps us make wiser choices on a national and personal level. We know that in our country more men die from coronavirus than women. This may be due to the fact that most adult men are more prone to the virus because of habits such as smoking or because they go outside more. Being aware of such information helps both men and women in our country make efficient choices during the ongoing crisis. Data also reveals that compared to many other countries, children in Bangladesh are more vulnerable to it.  In this way, data can help authorities mark out the more vulnerable communities and then take pragmatic actions to alleviate symptoms in those communities.

Various social media platforms have also come forward to the rescue to collect data. Nowadays, regardless of where someone lives, almost everybody has a Facebook account. Earlier this year, they have launched coronavirus tracking map with the data this social media giant stores. Google had also come forward to survey data that may help map Covid-19’s spread.


With all that said, unfortunately there are still many gaps and disparities in data collection even now. The percentage of infected people accounted for in the data varies widely from country to country. This makes it harder to track a singular path of the virus as different nations are forwarding different data. Comparing these data can help adjust these gaps.  For example, 15 days after the virus broke out in Italy, around 800 deaths had been recorded there, while in Spain, 15 days after the virus was detected in its territory, 2000 deaths had been recorded. If the days are recorded and the number of infected per country is weighed, it will be easier to predict the behaviour of the virus in those particular regions.


The writer is a journalist.