Please login to the form below

Not currently logged in

Smart Thinking blog

Insights and expert advice on the key issues facing today’s pharma marketer

Policy and public health COVID-19 by the numbers

COVID-19 has forced us to look at a deluge of numbers and statistics – here are some of them

It is hard to choose what to focus on. There are so many numbers and statistics. And so many of them are different, depending on which data source you use. But one thing is eminently clear with COVID-19: there are some statistics that are worth paying attention to because they inform public health and, by extension, public policy, and others are worth paying attention to because they are simply fascinating.

The table below is my personal selection of curated statistics that I find both informative and fascinating. You may agree or disagree. And certainly, this is not an exhaustive list by any means. Please note that the majority of the statistics are based on data as of 17 April 2020.

As someone once said, 99% of all statistics only tell 50% of the story.

Numerical valueWhat it refers toCommentSource
2,258,926 The number of people who have tested positive worldwide This is like the entire country of Latvia testing positive for the disease Johns Hopkins University
154,686 The number of people who have died from COVID-19 Think of the entire population of Kansas City, USA being wiped out in 16 weeks Johns Hopkins University
30% The supposed number of false negatives that we obtain with diagnostic testing for COVID-19 This matters because if you think you’re negative (but you’re really not), you might be back at work and in the community infecting people STAT News article on 04/17/2020
40% The percentage of all confirmed cases in the world that are in Western Europe These eight countries account for 40% of confirmed cases worldwide: Spain, Italy, UK, Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland
89,349 The highest single number of new daily confirmed cases worldwide on any day since the outbreak started (11 April) This is more than all the new cases of prostate cancer (N=64,955) or breast cancer (N=56,162) in the entire country of France in 2018for an entire year Global cancer observatory
2, 3 and 4 The rate of doubling (in days) of COVID-19 for 5 specific regions Africa holds all five top spots for the fastest rate of doubling of the disease as of 18 April 2020 (Sierra Leone, Cape Verde, Tanzania, Djibouti and Somalia)
574,791 The number of people who have officially recovered from COVID-19 worldwide There were approximately the same number of deaths before the age of 60 due to diabetes in all of Southeast Asia in 2019
40,000 The number of ventilators requested by New York state alone to meet the projected need in their hospitals This number exceeds the total number of active ventilators in Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and Chile combined by 13,000 Central and South America; Mexico; GHI 2016
454.94 The population density of India in inhabitants per square kilometre This compares with 145 and 36 per square kilometre respectively for China and the US; this is a critical figure as social distancing measures rely on physical separation
452.02 The number of deaths per one million population in Belgium This is the highest rate in the world and surpasses that of Spain, Italy, France and the UK
366 The number of COVID-19 studies registered worldwide as of 8 April 2020 This is more than the total number of industry-sponsored clinical trials in cardiovascular disease (348) as of 2017
63% The percentage of US registered nurses who reported having access to N95 masks for COVID-19 as of 3 March 2020 During non-pandemic times, this number is routinely close to 100%
58 The number of days since the last reported case of COVID-19 in Nepal The next closest European country is Greenland, which has gone three days since its last case

Article by
Rohit Khanna

Rohit Khanna is the Managing Director of Catalytic Health, a healthcare communication, advertising & strategy agency. He can be reached at:

1st June 2020


Subscribe to our email news alerts


Add my company
Origins - The Patient Focused Specialists

Origins creates and delivers patient focused strategy, insights, data and solutions, which guides pharma and biotech companies to improve value...

Latest intelligence

Healing the Healers
Because if we do not heal the healers, who is going to heal us?...
The (inevitable) digital transformation of Medical Affairs
It’s not a question of ‘if,’ it’s a question of ‘when.’...
Oncology eBook: Reducing the care gap in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment
Despite significant innovation in the oncology landscape, there is a growing care gap preventing patients accessing and benefiting from innovations in cancer treatment. In this new publication, our oncology experts...