Why We Shouldn't Say COVID-19 is a "Chinese Virus"

This article is part of our Covid Count effort to better understand and share information around the COVID-19 pandemic. Covid Count was created as an effort of Ethos for Good, a philanthropic initiative started by Ethos Life.

We’ve been hearing on the news that folks are calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” or the “Italian virus.” Not only is this incorrect—it misses the point. COVID-19 is a human issue affecting countries around the world and isn’t relegated to just one place or one people. Here are three graphs that demonstrate exactly why.

Map A: Total Number of COVID-19 Confirmed Cases

Map A: Worldwide total # of confirmed cases

See an interactive version of this map here.

Source: JHU

Map B: % of New Cases

This map shows the percentage of cases that are comprised of yesterday's new cases by country

Map B: Worldwide # of yesterday's cases divided by # of total confirmed cases for March 26,2020

See an interactive version of this map here.

Source: JHU

Map C: Total Confirmed Cases per 1 Million People

Map C: Worldwide Total # of cases per 1M

See an interactive version of this map here.

Source: JHU

Based on the graph, we see that the countries that are significantly impacted by the spread of the novel coronavirus (as of Thursday, March 26) are countries in Europe as well as the U.S. The population size of each country is also taken into account in Map C.

Just by looking at the raw numbers alone Map A, we can say that the countries most affected by the virus are: United States, Italy, China, Spain, Germany, France, Iran, United Kingdom. This is a good way to quickly assess what countries have been hit the most so far.

However, this does not show the efforts that affected countries have been making to flatten the curve. To better understand this, we look at Map B where yesterday’s number of confirmed cases is normalized by the number of total confirmed cases per country. This tells us how many new cases make up the total number of confirmed cases in each country. The goal for all of us then, is to reduce this number to 0 as much as we can.

Now to fully understand to what extent the virus has affected each country, we turn to Map C in which we normalized the number of total cases by population (in millions). Here we then see that this number is high for countries like Italy or Spain and low for countries with large populations such as China or the Untied States (though the number of total confirmed cases is in the tens of thousands for both). This helps us understand how much the virus has affected the populations at large.

Main Takeaways

  • Map A helps us understand which countries have the most number of confirmed cases.
  • Map B illustrates the velocity of the spread - the closer it is to 0, the better.
  • Map C shows how many people per million are affected by the virus in each country.
  • This virus is affecting the world not just one country over another
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