Covid By Numbers

Covid By Numbers

Making Sense of the Pandemic with Data


'I couldn't imagine a better guidebook for making sense of a tragic and momentous time in our lives. Covid by Numbers is comprehensive yet concise, impeccably clear and always humane' Tim Harford

How many people have died because of COVID-19? Which countries have been hit hardest by the virus? What are the benefits and harms of different vaccines? How does COVID-19 compare to the Spanish flu? How have the lockdown measures affected the economy, mental health and crime?

This year we have been bombarded by statistics - seven day rolling averages, rates of infection, excess deaths. Never have numbers been more central to our national conversation, and never has it been more important that we think about them clearly. In the media and in their Observer column, Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter and RSS Statistical Ambassador Anthony Masters have interpreted these statistics, offering a vital public service by giving us the tools we need to make sense of the virus for ourselves and holding the government to account.

In Covid by Numbers, they crunch the data on a year like no other, exposing the leading misconceptions about the virus and the vaccine, and answering our essential questions. This timely, concise and approachable book offers a rare depth of insight into one of the greatest upheavals in history, and a trustworthy guide to these most uncertain of times.


  • A clear and extremely readable guided tour of the pandemic... This book represents an extremely timely contribution... If journalists, politicians and the public were all provided with a copy then the debate would be vastly better informed, with much more light than heat
    Oliver Johnson, Guardian

About the authors

David Spiegelhalter

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter FRS OBE is Chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication in the Centre for Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cambridge. His bestselling book, The Art of Statistics, has been published in 11 languages. He was knighted in 2014 for services to medical statistics, was President of the Royal Statistical Society (2017-2018), and became a Non-Executive Director of the UK Statistics Authority in 2020. He is @d_spiegel on Twitter.
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Anthony Masters

Dr Anthony Masters is a Chartered Statistician, a Statistical Ambassador for the Royal Statistical Society, and a frequent blogger and explainer of statistical ideas. He is @anthonybmasters on Twitter.
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