With all eyes on the COVID-19 pandemic and how its impact will be felt over the coming weeks and months, people are being bombarded with all kinds of noise and speculation.
Between a deadly virus, looming economic effects, and numerous government shutdowns, it’s clear that a fertile breeding ground has been created for misinformation, rumors, conspiracy theories, hot takes, and other potentially misleading content.
7 Indispensable COVID-19 Resources
At Visual Capitalist, it’s our goal to use data-driven visuals to explain the world around us.
In the last week alone, we’ve had more than 10 million people visit our site — many of them trying to understand more about COVID-19 and its effects on the economy and society.
With that in mind, we thought we’d curate a list of quality information on the virus and its impact. These COVID-19 resources are all from fact-driven, reliable sources, with some of them even being created by our in-house team and shared to our free daily mailing list.
On the below list, we start with the more contextual resources (understanding how the virus works, pandemic history, etc.) and then progress to real-time dashboards and up-to-date data.
Click any image below to see the full resource or dashboard. Many are updated daily or in real-time.
1. How Coronaviruses Work
What is a coronavirus, and how does COVID-19 fit into the mix?
This educational scrolling infographic by SCMP walks you through some of the more familiar types of coronaviruses, how they spread, and how they affect the human body.
It also relates COVID-19 to other coronaviruses that cause diseases such as Mers, Sars, and even the common cold.
2. The History of Pandemics
On March 11th, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
In this infographic, we look at the data to show you the history of pandemics — all the way from the Black Death to how the current COVID-19 situation. It helps give the historical context on how bad a pandemic can be. It’s also updated every day so you can see how COVID-19 compares to the impact of these previous events.
3. Coronavirus Simulator: Limiting the Exponential Spread
Why does the virus spread at an exponential rate, and what techniques can be used to mitigate that spread?
This fantastic interactive page by the Washington Post actively simulates what happens when the virus spreads normally, contrasting it to how it may spread in a forced quarantine environment or when social distancing is practiced.
4. Real-time COVID-19 Map
If you haven’t seen this useful real-time dashboard by Johns Hopkins University yet, it’s worth bookmarking right now.
We check the resource every day, and it has the latest numbers for COVID-19 cases, deaths, recoveries, and more — and it’s all sorted by country and/or state and province. Importantly, it also updates in real-time, so you always know you are getting the latest numbers.
5. Which Countries are “Flattening the Curve”?
Our post on which countries are “flattening the curve” has had over a million views in the last week alone, and it features the above interactive graph from Our World in Data.
Go to the post itself to see a bigger version of the logarithmic chart, which plots the progress of different countries in flattening the curves of COVID-19 infections. The interactive chart updates daily based on the latest numbers, and you can actually search for any country by using the “Search” button. Using the filters on the right side, you can also sort by region as well.
6. Tracking the Coronavirus: The Latest Figures
Even though the Financial Times is a subscription-based website, it recently published this useful COVID-19 dashboard and made it accessible to everyone.
It features various charts and tables on the countries affected, as well as ongoing assessments on the economic damage caused by the virus. Like many of the other COVID-19 resources featured on this list, it is updated on a daily basis.
7. COVID-19 Stats and Research
The above graphic is one of many available on Our World in Data, a fantastic initiative led by economist Max Roser.
Their coronavirus research page has tons of stats, citations, and data for those that want to dive deeper into the situation. It’s also updated very regularly.
Bonus: The Coronavirus Explained, and What You Should Do
While this is less data-driven than the other pieces of content, this animated video by Kurzgesagt still provides a handy explainer on how the virus works.
It’s about eight minutes long, and might help you fill other knowledge gaps.
Please Share These Resources
At a time when misinformation can be dangerous and even deadly, it is worth spreading the above COVID-19 resources to your friends, family, and colleagues.
Many of the above resources are updated daily or they contain evergreen information, meaning they are not going to go out of date any time soon.
Wishing you a safe next few months,
– The Visual Capitalist team
PS: If you have any other great resources to share, please post them in the comments!
Visualizing the Relationship Between Cancer and Lifespan
New research links mutation rates and lifespan. We visualize the data supporting this new framework for understanding cancer.
A Newfound Link Between Cancer and Aging?
A new study in 2022 reveals a thought-provoking relationship between how long animals live and how quickly their genetic codes mutate.
Cancer is a product of time and mutations, and so researchers investigated its onset and impact within 16 unique mammals. A new perspective on DNA mutation broadens our understanding of aging and cancer development—and how we might be able to control it.
Mutations, Aging, and Cancer: A Primer
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells. It is not a pathogen that infects the body, but a normal body process gone wrong.
Cells divide and multiply in our bodies all the time. Sometimes, during DNA replication, tiny mistakes (called mutations) appear randomly within the genetic code. Our bodies have mechanisms to correct these errors, and for much of our youth we remain strong and healthy as a result of these corrective measures.
However, these protections weaken as we age. Developing cancer becomes more likely as mutations slip past our defenses and continue to multiply. The longer we live, the more mutations we carry, and the likelihood of them manifesting into cancer increases.
A Biological Conundrum
Since mutations can occur randomly, biologists expect larger lifeforms (those with more cells) to have greater chances of developing cancer than smaller lifeforms.
Strangely, no association exists.
It is one of biology’s biggest mysteries as to why massive creatures like whales or elephants rarely seem to experience cancer. This is called Peto’s Paradox. Even stranger: some smaller creatures, like the naked mole rat, are completely resistant to cancer.
This phenomenon motivates researchers to look into the genetics of naked mole rats and whales. And while we’ve discovered that special genetic bonuses (like extra tumor-suppressing genes) benefit these creatures, a pattern for cancer rates across all other species is still poorly understood.
Cancer May Be Closely Associated with Lifespan
Researchers at the Wellcome Sanger Institute report the first study to look at how mutation rates compare with animal lifespans.
Mutation rates are simply the speed at which species beget mutations. Mammals with shorter lifespans have average mutation rates that are very fast. A mouse undergoes nearly 800 mutations in each of its four short years on Earth. Mammals with longer lifespans have average mutation rates that are much slower. In humans (average lifespan of roughly 84 years), it comes to fewer than 50 mutations per year.
The study also compares the number of mutations at time of death with other traits, like body mass and lifespan. For example, a giraffe has roughly 40,000 times more cells than a mouse. Or a human lives 90 times longer than a mouse. What surprised researchers was that the number of mutations at time of death differed only by a factor of three.
Such small differentiation suggests there may be a total number of mutations a species can collect before it dies. Since the mammals reached this number at different speeds, finding ways to control the rate of mutations may help stall cancer development, set back aging, and prolong life.
The Future of Cancer Research
The findings in this study ignite new questions for understanding cancer.
Confirming that mutation rate and lifespan are strongly correlated needs comparison to lifeforms beyond mammals, like fishes, birds, and even plants.
It will also be necessary to understand what factors control mutation rates. The answer to this likely lies within the complexities of DNA. Geneticists and oncologists are continuing to investigate genetic curiosities like tumor-suppressing genes and how they might impact mutation rates.
Aging is likely to be a confluence of many issues, like epigenetic changes or telomere shortening, but if mutations are involved then there may be hopes of slowing genetic damage—or even reversing it.
While just a first step, linking mutation rates to lifespan is a reframing of our understanding of cancer development, and it may open doors to new strategies and therapies for treating cancer or taming the number of health-related concerns that come with aging.
Explainer: What to Know About Monkeypox
What is monkeypox, and what risk does it pose to the public? This infographic breaks down the symptoms, transmission, and more.
Explainer: What to Know About Monkeypox
The COVID-19 pandemic is still fresh in the minds of the people around the world, so it comes as no surprise that recent outbreaks of another virus are grabbing headlines.
Monkeypox outbreaks have now been reported in multiple countries, and it has scientists paying close attention. For everyone else, numerous questions come to the surface:
- How serious is this virus?
- How contagious is it?
- Could monkeypox develop into a new pandemic?
Below, we answer these questions and more.
What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a virus in the Orthopoxvirus genus which also includes the variola virus (which causes smallpox) and the cowpox virus. The primary symptoms include fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a distinctive bumpy rash.
There are two major strains of the virus that pose very different risks:
- Congo Basin strain: 1 in 10 people infected with this strain have died
- West African strain: Approximately 1 in 100 people infected with this strain died
At the moment, health authorities in the UK have indicated they’re seeing the milder strain in patients there.
Where did Monkeypox Originate From?
The virus was originally discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in monkeys kept for research purposes (hence the name). Eventually, the virus made the jump to humans more than a decade after its discovery in 1958.
It is widely assumed that vaccination against another similar virus, smallpox, helped keep monkeypox outbreaks from occurring in human populations. Ironically, the successful eradication of smallpox, and eventual winding down of that vaccine program, has opened the door to a new viral threat. There is now a growing population of people who no longer have immunity against the virus.
Now that travel restrictions are lifting in many parts of the world, viruses are now able to hop between nations again. As of the publishing of this article, a handful of cases have now been reported in the U.S., Canada, the UK, and a number of European countries.
On the upside, contact tracing has helped authorities piece together the transmission of the virus. While cases are rare in Europe and North America, it is considered endemic in parts of West Africa. For example, the World Health Organization reports that Nigeria has experienced over 550 reported monkeypox cases from 2017 to today. The current UK outbreak originated from an individual who returned from a trip to Nigeria.
Could Monkeypox become a new pandemic?
Monkeypox, which primarily spreads through animal-to-human interaction, is not known to spread easily between humans. Most individuals infected with monkeypox pass the virus to between zero and one person, so outbreaks typically fizzle out. For this reason, the fact that outbreaks are occurring in several countries simultaneously is concerning for health authorities and organizations that monitor viral transmission. Experts are entertaining the possibility that the virus’ rate of transmission has increased.
Images of people covered in monkeypox lesions are shocking, and people are understandably concerned by this virus, but the good news is that members of the general public have little to fear at this stage.
I think the risk to the general public at this point, from the information we have, is very, very low.
–Tom Inglesby, Director, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security
» For up-to-date information on monkeypox cases, check out Global.Health’s tracking spreadsheet
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