Coronavirus in Numbers: The Importance of Statistics


Tuesday, July 21, 2020

In a world where we are surrounded by information all the time, it is highly important to consume this knowledge thoroughly. That is to say, we need to read avidly, ask questions, conduct our own research, consider the validity of claims prior to accepting them as totally trustworthy. Here is where statistics comes into play: it can help us learn how to interpret and address data and information we encounter.




What is Statistics?

Statistics is the scientific application of mathematical principles to the collection, analysis, and presentation of data. Statisticians contribute to scientific enquiry by applying their mathematical and statistical knowledge to the design of surveys and experiments; the collection, processing, and analysis of data; and the interpretation of the results.

Statistics in times of Covid-19

Statistical analysis is one of the best ways to understand information and situations through the study of patterns of data.

In critical times like the one the world is facing right now because of Coronavirus, statistics allows not only experts, but also common people, to understand the impact and the danger of the situation.

According to the South African Official Coronavirus Website, there is no need for a widespread, irrational panic because the majority of COVID-19 cases are mild (82% of cases to be more precise): patients only experience a slight fever, fatigue and a cough, that is to say, symptoms are similar to a common flu or cold. Only about 6% of patients need intensive care. The vast majority of people can stay at home and get better without hospital treatment.

Latest Covid-19 Statistics in South Africa:

2,505,646
Tests Conducted

373,628
Positive Cases Identified

194,865
Recoveries

5,173
Deaths

If the world didn’t perform statistical research, right now the situation would be much more serious than it is already. People would be much more difficult to control because, when fear enters the picture, nothing else matters.

Without statistics, we wouldn’t be able to discern who the virus affects the most, which places are worst or better prepared to address the pandemic, how many got sick, how many died because of it, among other worrying numbers. 

Even though sometimes the overload of information doesn’t allow us to make out which information is trustworthy, thanks to statistics, we are able to discern what is for real and what is trying to worsen the situation.

Who should study statistics?

It is of paramount importance that someone interested in studying Statistics has a taste and aptitude for mathematical thinking since Statistics is a mathematical science. This field often attracts people interested in analysing patterns in data, which includes: developing, understanding, abstracting, and packaging analytical methods for general use in other subject areas. 

Statistics is an information science as well. Imaginative use of both computing power and new computing environments drives much current research - so an interest in computation and/or computer science can also be a start for a statistician.

Career opportunities for Statistics graduates

Since statistics can be applied to any other field, you can combine your interest with almost any other field in science, technology, or business. Statisticians can be employed in many industries because their knowledge is necessary for every other field. 

Statisticians are employed in many industries, which include: biology, finance, economics, engineering, medicine, public health, psychology, marketing, education and sports. In all of these areas and many others, statisticians work closely with other scientists and researchers to develop new statistical techniques, adapt existing techniques, design experiments, and direct analyses of surveys and retrospective studies.

The knowledge gained can be applied to everyday life to help us become better students, citizens, critical thinkers, job applicants and decision makers.

Besides, statisticians have transferable skills that can be applied to many other fields. For that reason, graduates have many job options, even if it is not related to statistics, because of the varied preparation and experience statistics provide graduates with. 

Where can I study Statistics in South Africa?

If you want to study Statistics in South Africa, here are some programmes you may be interested in pursuing offered by two of the best universities in the country:

Bachelor of Commerce with Honours in Mathematical Statistics Focused on Data Science




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