Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) – Statistics and Research


Limitations of current research and limitations of our presentation of current research

The purpose of this article on COVID-19 is to aggregate existing research, bring together the relevant data and allow readers to make sense of the published data and early research on the coronavirus outbreak.

Most of our work focuses on established problems, for which we can refer to well-established research and data. COVID-19 is different. All data and research on the virus is preliminary; researchers are rapidly learning more about a new and evolving problem. It is certain that the research we present here will be revised in the future. But based on our mission we feel it is our role to present clearly what the current research and data tells us about this emerging problem and especially to provide an understanding of what can and cannot be said based on this available knowledge.

As always in our work, one important strategy of dealing with this problem is to always link to the underlying original research and data so that everyone can understand how this data was produced and how we arrive at the statements we make. But scrutiny of all reported research and data is very much required. We welcome your feedback. In the current situation we read and consider all feedback, but can not promise to reply to all.

Our World in Data relies on data from the World Health Organization
In this document and the associated charts we report and visualize the data from the ‘Situation Reports’, which the World Health Organization (WHO) publishes daily. The WHO reports this data for each single day and they can be found here at the WHO’s site.

According to the WHO the data published in these reports is correct as of 10am (CET; Geneva time) each time.

We – the Our World in Data team – went back through all the daily Situation Reports and found several minor errors in WHO’s data. We immediately notified the WHO and are in close contact with the WHO’s team to correct the errors that we pointed out to them. We document all errors we found.

We should emphasize that while there are errors in the published WHO data, all of these errors are minor and do not affect our or the public’s understanding of the evolving COVID-19 outbreak in a significant way. As can be seen in our documentation these errors should be corrected (and will be), but they are small.

Here is our detailed documentation of where the WHO’s data is sourced from and how we corrected its data – we also provide several options to download all corrected data there.

Why do we rely on the data from the World Health Organization?

The World Health Organization is the UN agency concerned with global health. National health agencies report their data on COVID-19 to the World Health Organization who collects and aggregates this data from countries around the world.

The most up-to-date data for any particular country is therefore typically earlier available via the national health agencies than via the WHO.

This lag between nationally available data and the WHO data is not very long as the WHO publishes new data daily.

We rely on the WHO data for two reasons. It is the authoritative source for this information. And as they collect data from around the world the WHO data allows us to compare what is happening in different countries, it provides a global perspective.

Not only the World Health Organization publishes COVID-19 data

A number of other organizations – including Johns Hopkins University and other research teams – publish their own lists of the number of confirmed cases and deaths. Johns Hopkins also publishes data on ‘recovered cases’ while the WHO does not.

At the end of this page we link to their visualizations and list links to other data sources.

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