Waiting for the corona data warehouse, decisions must be taken
The statistics from OurWorldInData, Worldometer and other sites are easy to access but they have a problem in common: it is hard to compare different countries for a number of reasons. One is that it is rather awkward to compare a big country like the US with a small country like Belgium. The difference in size is too big: an outbreak does not follow the country borders. Another problem is the rather random looking distribution of small and big outbreaks. Around almost every big outbreak you usually have several small outbreaks. A third reason is the different implementation of how to count number of cases and number of deaths.
In an article from July 15, The Economist addresses the measure Excess death rate as an alternative or an addition to the number of deaths reported by each health agency. The Financial times goes a step further in its coronavirus tracker and publish excess death rates for selected metropolitan areas, such as Ile de France, Madrid, Stockholm and London.When comparing countries, the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford, has developed a stringency index to describe responses to the pandemic.
Still, with these improvements, we know too little about the factors behind the spread of the virus as well as the reason why some areas are harder hit than others. We can guess, but the current debate tend to lean more to rhetoric than to analysis. And it must do so: waiting for the corona data warehouse, decisions must be taken.