Can you capture the complex reality of the pandemic with numbers? Well, we tried…

David Spiegelhalter and Anthony Masters in The Guardian:

Individual experiences and suffering are, of course, at the heart of the pandemic. But one way to understand what has happened is through putting those experiences together – and statistics are those personal stories writ large. And this pandemic has brought unprecedented demand to explain all the numbers that have been flying around.

This has not been without its problems and we’ve had to learn some hard lessons, such as the journalistic skill of brevity. Since January 2021, we’ve been writing a weekly column in this paper about Covid numbers, covering everything from infections to deaths, vaccines to mental health, masks to lockdowns.

It can be frustrating not being able to show all the graphs, but the same holds for radio and TV interviews and More or Less on Radio 4 has shown how much can be done to explain statistics without visual aids. Mathematical formulae and technical jargon need to be avoided, but we have also had to be sparing with numbers, which is harder when they are so precious to us.

More here.