Statistics: the Importance of Numbers in Covid-19 times

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The age of information is here to stay. Information is all around us in many different ways. For that reason, it is important to be aware of the trustworthiness of  the information we consume. Being avid readers, asking the correct questions, conducting our own research and considering the validity of claims before deciding it is truthful will go a long way to making us critical thinkers. Statistics help us organize information and interpret it in an easy and understandable way. Here is why it is so important to learn about statistics.

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.

Covid-19’s Numbers in South Africa

Analysing statistics is one of the most effective ways of understanding information and situations through the study of patterns of data. 

In unprecedented times like the one the world is going through right now because of the crisis of Covid-19, statistical analysis allows experts, and common people as well, to understand how serious the situation is, its danger and its impact in many different aspects.

The South African Official Coronavirus Website claims there is no need to panic: the majority of cases of Covid-19 are mild (82% to be more precise) and patients only experience a slight fever, fatigue and a cough, which means that symptoms are quite similar to the ones we experience when we come down with 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:
Tests Conducted

Positive Cases Identified



Thanks to statistical research, the world is able to better understand any situation and compare its impact. Had it not been for statistical analysis, the situation would have been much more serious because it would be more difficult to control people since, when fear enters the picture, people go blind and nothing else matters.

Without statistics, we wouldn’t be able to discern who the virus affects the most, which places are worse 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.

Should I study Statistics?

Are you interested in mathematics? Then statistics is right for you. Since Statistics is a mathematical science, it is of paramount importance that someone interested in studying Statistics has a taste and aptitude for mathematical thinking. 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 Options for Statistics Graduates

Since statistics can be applied to many other fields, 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 in many areas.

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.

Statistical knowledge is not only important for your job, but 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:

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