Reliable corona data but with a time lag

Study emphasises the need for more up-to-date official figures

2020/04/14

A study carried out by TU Darmstadt and Goethe University Frankfurt demonstrates that reliable data on new Covid-19 infections is only available with a time lag. Other sources of complementary data should also be used.

Professor Iryna Gurevych.

During the corona crisis, decision makers are being provided with data on the number of new Covid-19 infections on a daily basis. This is considered important for evaluating whether the measures introduced to contain the coronavirus are also having an effect. But is this data up to date? Is the correct data being evaluated? A recent study carried out by researchers at Goethe University and TU Darmstadt for Germany shows that it is only possible to publish the official figures after a delay of a few days. In addition, 40 percent too few cases are registered at the weekend. According to critics, the figures released by Johns Hopkins University that are often quoted deviate from the official figures by 79 percent on average. These delays have made it more difficult to make appropriate political decisions to limit the social, humanitarian and economic consequences of the corona crisis.

Professor Iryna Gurevych and Dr. Kevin Stowe from the Department of Computer Science at TU Darmstadt and the economists Professor Bernd Skiera and Lukas Jürgensmeier from the Goethe University believe, therefore, that there is an urgent need to include other sources of data. They recommend that the official figures are supplemented with data from Google Search and Twitter. This data would enable even better forecasts than those made using the figures published by the Johns Hopkins University. The data from Google Search and Twitter could also be used in countries where there are no official figures or where the official figures are considered unreliable.

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Focus "Fighting Corona"

Researchers, students and employees at the university are responding to the current corona crisis in a variety of ways. The focus provides an up-to-date overview of the numerous aid initiatives and projects in research, teaching and transfer.

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