Understanding COVID-19 Stats & Numbers
Staying informed is key when it comes to understanding COVID-19. The information below will help you become more aware of the virus and its associated statistics.
What is coronavirus (COVID-19) and where did it come from?
Simply put, coronaviruses are a family of viruses that manifest in a range of symptoms as little as coughing, to more severe respiratory symptoms. From the coronavirus family, COVID-19 (19 representing 2019 in which the virus was born) is an illness that has spread worldwide and is caused by the SARS Cov. 2. coronaviruses. Scientists speculate that the current coronavirus outbreak came from Wuhan, China, and think they have sourced it from a fish market there.
What are latest coronavirus numbers and are they reliable?
Our latest coronavirus numbers are statistics associated with the COVID-19 illness worldwide. Sources list the number of active cases (people who are currently infected), worldwide fatalities, excess deaths, recovered cases, and new cases frequently and they are updated accordingly.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) works round-the-clock to update the reported numbers of cases, it is speculated that the actual numbers reported might not be 100% accurate country-by-country. This could be because of delays, or restricted access to testing, false negatives, and other problematic reasons that could lead to inaccurate numbers.
How contagious is this virus and how does it spread?
Human-to-human contact is the quickest way to obtain the virus. However, experts say that the virus can live on surfaces or objects and can be transmitted to those who touch the surface or object and then proceed to touch their face. It is also said that the virus can be transmitted through respiratory droplets (produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes). The WHO estimated in January 2020 that the COVID-19 virus spreads at a rate of 1.4 - 2.5 R0. R0 is pronounced “R naught”, and is used to help us understand the average number of people who could potentially contract the virus after coming into contact with someone who has the disease (whether they are aware of it or not). To give you a bit of perspective, the common flu usually has a rate of around 1.3 R0, making it contagious; but not as much as the current coronavirus. There are other studies that have predicted that the virus is spreading at an even faster rate, between 3.6 R0 and 4.0 R0. This higher R0 than the flu explains why it has quickly circulated all over the world, affecting millions of people in a short amount of time. With this specific coronavirus, it is reported that symptoms may arise within as little as 2 days, but can stay dormant for up to 14 days before people notice any signs of illness. To decrease the spread of the virus, it is recommended that you stay at home if you can, or use social distancing practices while in public places.
Statistics around demographics
Back in January 2020, it was reported that those who contracted the virus outside of China were 2 years old to 74 years old. However, since then, there have been reported cases in people 100+ years old.
Fatality rate and excess mortality
As you’ll find in the recent coronavirus numbers, many countries have a high recovery rate. Unfortunately, people with underlying health issues and those 60 years or older are more prone to becoming very ill, resulting in a significant amount of deaths. An unprecedented amount of people have died all over the world and the worldwide fatality count keeps climbing as more and more people become infected.
Sadly, the total number of fatalities caused by the virus may be even higher than the number of COVID-19 deaths recorded by governments. One way to capture the true impact of COVID-19 on mortality across countries is to use a simpler measure, known as “excess deaths”. Coronavirus excess deaths estimate the difference between deaths from all causes during the pandemic and the historic seasonal average. The data on COVID-19 excess deaths demonstrates that, in most places, the number of excess deaths is greater than the official number of coronavirus fatalities. This happens because coronavirus excess deaths not only account for potentially unrecorded fatalities, but also capture other deaths that might be the result of burden on healthcare systems, thus providing a more accurate picture of how countries have been affected overall.
Is there a treatment?
While stats show us that there are over 25 million cases worldwide, it is said that we are more than a year away from having an effective vaccine.
How does COVID-19 differ from the common flu?
According to the John Hopkins website, statistically speaking, the flu affects over 1 billion people worldwide every year. While also fatal, the number of deaths caused by the flu is estimated to be around 290,000-600,000 yearly. Compared to the over 345,000 fatalities from COVID-19 this year already. Another notable differentiation between the two is that there is a vaccine for the flu, but there has yet to be a successful, effective immunization developed for the coronavirus.