As we hunker down in our homes and wait out the worst effects of Coronavirus, we’re bombarded with an endless flow of statistics, predictions, graphs and charts. Of course, being a maths tutor, I’m interested in the relationship between news of Covid-19 and maths!
Everything we see on the news in terms of Covid-19 data is produced via computer programs. But what sits behind them is a complex set of formulae and algorithms that enable us to interpret what’s going on.
Right now, the government is looking closely at the effects of the current lockdown and whether it is slowing the spread and impact of the disease.
It isn’t as straightforward as many would like to think though, with many variables to account for. For example, individuals take various lengths of time to show signs of infection, if in fact they present symptoms at all. Which is another variable to consider!
We also know that some will have mild symptoms and others will present moderate or severe responses, with some requiring hospitalisation.
Due to a low volume of Coronavirus testing, it’s impossible to know the rate of the spread. The one thing we know for sure is the rate of confirmed infection via testing, hospital admissions and unfortunately, deaths. While the death rate is considered easy to track, there can be significant delays before the release of information, which in turn impacts the data.
In dealing with varying numbers of reported infections (and a great many more remaining unreported), inconsistent incubation periods and those who are asymptomatic, there are extremely complex calculations required to both capture and predict happenings.
Intensive data modelling is being used to make sense of events, both here and abroad, in order to create meaningful predictions which in turn influence the governmental decision processes.
Without accurate infection data we have no solid foundation from which to begin, making for an incredibly complicated process. It will be some time before we have a clearer picture of the actual rates of infection and because of some of the variables described above we may never have the full facts.
Just imagine what would happen if we were suddenly without IT and computing! It would be left to the mathematicians to step forward to tell the story with numbers.
This is another example of why maths is so important in the world.
Because of the impact of Covid-19, all of my lessons are now delivered online. Following the great success of my Bridging the Gap from GCSE to A Level Maths course, I will be rerunning it from week commencing the June 1st. Secondary school Maths presents a noticeable step up in both volume and complexity of work, so if you’re interest in reserving a space, please let me know as soon as possible.
For more information you can contact me on 0207 686 4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.