Dehai News

Coronavirus data bias | Busting virus myths

Posted by: The Conversation Global

Date: Wednesday, 08 April 2020


Editor's note

One of the most asked questions when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic is which country has the best strategy for curbing the spread of COVID-19. Many of us are anxiously following the daily updates of ever rising death rates across the world, hoping to learn the answer. But different countries have radically different approaches to testing, sampling and reporting. This leads to significant biases in the data, which can make country comparisons useless. If a country has a low death or infection rate compared to others, it is not necessarily because it is managing the virus any better or that the virus has infected fewer people. Luckily, as Norman Fenton, Magda Osman, Martin Neil and Scott McLachlan explain, there are ways to improve the modelling, something which should ideally be done in parallel with random testing.

Nicolas Guilhot, meanwhile, examines why so many conspiracy theories have sprung up in the months since the virus first emerged. And Stanley Shanapinda busts the dangerous myth that radiation from 5G technology can spread the coronavirus.

Miriam Frankel

Science Editor

Top Stories

New cases daily for COVID-19 in world and top countries. Chris55 /wikipedia

Coronavirus: country comparisons are pointless unless we account for these biases in testing

Norman Fenton, Queen Mary University of London; Magda Osman, Queen Mary University of London; Martin Neil, Queen Mary University of London; Scott McLachlan, Queen Mary University of London

We need to update models on death rates or introduce truly random testing to understand the true impact of the coronavirus.


Why pandemics are the perfect environment for conspiracy theories to flourish

Nicolas Guilhot, City College of New York

Like conspiracy theories, pandemics are about an invisible and powerful enemy hiding among us.


No, 5G radiation doesn’t cause or spread the coronavirus. Saying it does is destructive

Stanley Shanapinda, La Trobe University

As if attacks on health workers weren't upsetting enough, reports indicate broadband engineers are now also being abused - as conspiracy theorists link 5G technology with to COVID-19's spread.


Few clinical trials are done in Africa: COVID-19 shows why this urgently needs to change

Jenniffer Mabuka-Maroa, African Academy of Sciences

More countries on the African continent must urgently get involved in clinical trials so that the data collected will accurately represent the continent at a genetic level.

Coronavirus weekly: as global cases pass one million, health-care workers take the strain

Patricia Nicholson, The Conversation

This fifth weekly column by our team of international health editors highlights more of the recently published articles from The Conversation’s global network.

ICU ventilators: what they are, how they work and why it’s hard to make more

Berto Pandolfo, University of Technology Sydney

Mechanical ventilators are often used in life and death situations, treating patients with pneumonia, brain injury and stroke. One mechanical ventilator can cost up to A$82,000.

Here’s how scientists are tracking the genetic evolution of COVID-19

Niema Moshiri, University of California San Diego

The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 is constantly mutating. What do these mutations reveal about this virus's evolution? And will this knowledge help us to develop a long-lasting vaccine?

Arts, Culture and Society

Boycotts, rallies and Free Mandela: UK anti-apartheid movement created a blueprint for activists today

Matthew Graham, University of Dundee; Christopher Fevre, University of the Free State

The British Anti-Apartheid Movement was founded 60 years ago. Here's why it remains as relevant today as in its heyday.

A theatre project explores collective solutions to saving the ocean

Kira Erwin, Durban University of Technology

Empatheatre's latest production is more than a play about three characters who live near the sea. It's a model for collective consultation on how to save the ocean.

En Français

Après la crise du Covid-19 : quels gagnants et quels perdants ?

Cyrille Bret, Sciences Po – USPC

La Chine semble bien partie pour rebondir malgré les difficultés économiques engendrées par la crise sanitaire. Pour l’UE et les États-Unis, c’est moins certain…

Une nouvelle caméra pour traquer des traces de vie sur Mars

Jean-Michel Reess, Observatoire de Paris

La prochaine mission martienne de la NASA embarque une caméra sophistiquée qui participera à détecter des traces de vie fossile.

En español

Infecciones y estigmas: lecciones de la pandemia del VIH para el mañana de la COVID-19

Sergio Villanueva Baselga, Universitat de Barcelona

Si miramos al pasado (y también a parte del presente), veremos cómo los enfermos de la epidemia del VIH (que ya ha matado a más de 30 millones de personas) fueron y son estigmatizados. En España ya empezamos a ver justicieros de balcón y vecinos que denuncian a otros. Es momento de mirar hacia atrás para no cometer los mismo errores.

Cómo disminuir la difusión de bulos durante la pandemia

Javier Valls Prieto, Universidad de Granada

La cuarentena ha tenido como efecto un mayor consumo de internet. Este factor, añadido a la sensación de seguridad que produce estar en nuestra casa, aumenta el riesgo de sufrir un ciberdelito.


Eritrean Independence Day May 24 2020