Visualising Covid-19 data

Covid-19 as you will know has gripped the whole world. It has been classified as a pandemic by the WHO. I am no expert on the disease itself and do not have any expertise on policy making, it would be unwise for me to comment on the actions taken by all the different governments from around the world.

My interest in this is very academic and data driven. The numbers which are changing daily are used to chart the progress of the disease as well as study the impact of the various measures taken to counteract the spread of the virus.

Over the past few weeks, a lot of data has been used to produce graphics which can communicate effectively the information pertaining to this pandemic. Of most relevance I think are the number of confirmed cases and the deaths due to coronavirus stratified by country. Most of these graphics have focused on the raw numbers. Although the raw number is useful it nonetheless is incomplete. I think a better measure is to adjust the raw number by the population of the country. This provides a better measure as to how severe the effect of the virus has been on a country.

Keeping that in mind I produced some graphs for population-adjusted confirmed cases and deaths for some select countries. I plan to update these graphs on a regular basis over the coming weeks to understand the spread of this disease. All plots start on 1 February 2020 and end on the latest date for which I have the data. All data has been sourced from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering (JHU CSSE)a.

Further subdividing the population into gender and age subgroups can provide more nuanced information. A good source for such informative graphics and the related analysisb can be found here.


a JHU CSSE Covid-19 Github Data Repository: link
b Max Roser, Hannah Ritchie, Esteban Ortiz-Ospina and Joe Hasell (2020) – “Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) – Statistics and Research”. Published online at Retrieved from: ‘’ [Online Resource]

This is where it all started

I completed my BSc in Mathematics from Jadavpur University in Kolkata, India. I had a great time there learning and deepening my love for mathematics and statistics. As I was nearing completion one thing had become clear that my interest was more in the applied field and not the theoretical (dare I say, ‘purer’)  form of mathematics.

Actuarial studies seemed like a great choice at that time. It also gave me the opportunity to venture out of my hometown and I decided to apply to universities in Australia. ANU was my favourite even before I got accepted here. Something about ANU and Canberra was drawing me towards it.

I was quite excited about the application process. In that excitement, I wrote an essay on why I wanted to study Actuarial Science and why ANU would be the best choice. Although such an essay was not required as part of the application process, I felt the need to get my passion for the subject across to whoever was going to decide my fate.

What follows is that essay I wrote for my application to ANU in late 2006.

I like Mathematics.

Mathematics is not just about ‘solving’ a problem and finding the ‘answer’. It is about comprehending the problem and then moving towards answers in a resourceful and elegant way. Understanding a situation thoroughly allows you to present not just one but many solutions and then pick the ideal one. Mathematics urges you to observe, examine, and extrapolate. It doesn’t just present you with predetermined set of rules but invites you to add to this set your own variations in a strict, considered, grammatical way. It does not restrict you to follow a single point of view but encourages you to create your own.

So it is not surprising that Mathematics is the global visa to the world of all professions, whether it is theoretical or applications based. Mathematics is particularly important in the study of cause and effect, choice, and optimization.

It is for this reason that I would like to be an Actuary.

Actuarial Sciences is an applied science. It deals with the real world. Its focus is on the practical and its benefits are for the public. Living in this world of risks and uncertainties is at times very difficult and confusing. An actuary strives to help an individual build a support system for oneself in order to provide security against such risks and uncertainties. The actuarial profession is about helping the community. An actuary strives to safeguard the interests of the public and help them to provide themselves a better standard of living.

Good human beings make good professionals.

This is what I believe: We are, each one of us, citizens of One World. I want to see this world, its many cultures, its many communities, and its many peoples. It is for this reason that I would like to travel far away to a distant nation and experience its distinct cultures and traditions. This experience will teach me to be more thoughtful, patient, faithful, and tolerant. It will make me a more considerate human being.

One never knows what the future holds. I would like my future to be that of a conscientious, hardworking, and dependable person.