Making sense of conflicting data around Covid-19 deaths

Amid confusion, distortion and political friction, how can we know the true toll of the virus?

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan (right) and  Prof Philip Nolan, chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan (right) and Prof Philip Nolan, chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Numbers can illuminate, or numbers can confuse. The true scale of Covid-19 deaths is contested globally. Equally so in Ireland, where mortality rates put the State high on some tables, and low on others.

What is at the heart of a big problem with Covid-19 data?

Yes, there is a dazzling array of colour-coded interactive maps, amazing diagrams showing that disease curve, and brilliantly illustrative graphics. Often, however, they cause confusion and political friction.

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