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What trends are researchers seeing with the coronavirus?

An interactive map tracking the number of coronavirus cases globally in near real time has become an important tool for researchers, health officials and the public at large. It was created by Johns Hopkins engineering professor Lauren Gardner and her graduate student Ensheng Dong. Hari Sreenivasan spoke to Gardner about how the interactive map works and what trends they are seeing.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    An interactive map tracking the number of coronavirus cases globaly in near real time has become an important tool for researchers, health officials and the public at large. The dashboard was created by Johns Hopkins engineering professor Lauren Gardner and a graduate student and EnShang Dong. I recently spoke with Professor Gardner about how the interactive map works and what trends they're seeing with their research. Lauren Gardner of Johns Hopkins, thanks so much for joining us.

  • Lauren Gardner:

    Hi Hari. Thanks so much for having me.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    So your site has become kind of the de facto go to place where people find how this Cauvin, 19, is spreading around the world. Where are you getting all that information from?

  • Lauren Gardner:

    This information is coming from multiple different sources all over the world, depending on what country or region we're actually collecting the data for. And so in some parts of the world, we're getting this data in an automated fashion from local public health authorities that's being fed directly into our dashboard in multiple areas. We're actually still collecting this through local media reports and then manually validating these these data points before we enter them into the dashboard.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    What have you seen? I mean, you have been watching the spread of this. I mean, most people ended up starting to pay attention to this in the United States in really February perhaps. But you saw this spread starting in late December, January.

  • Lauren Gardner:

    Yeah, absolutely. So we we started the dashboard in mid-January. We've seen this outbreak grow from a local outbreak in Wuhan in China to a global pandemic that has now been reported in over one hundred and sixty countries.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    You know, there are a couple of slides that you've sent us, sort of describe what's in one of them.

  • Lauren Gardner:

    So one of the slides I sent that first looks at the global picture, what's going on is identifying the trend in the countries in the top 10 countries that are reporting the most COVID cases at the moment. And one thing note is that China is not included in that graph because there's been, at least to date, more cases in China and they would not be shown because they'd be above the ACCI's curve on that. So those cases have since steadied off and there's actually not any new local reported cases coming out of China at the moment. Any Chinese, any cases in China are are coming back actually from importation outside of China. What we're really seeing is a huge surge in cases now in multiple different countries in Europe and also in the United States. And so these are the trends that are happening. We've kind of seen this shift from from east to west. And so that's what's really concerning at the moment.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    And what about the 10 states in the U.S. where it seems to be climbing faster?

  • Lauren Gardner:

    So the cases are climbing in more than 10 states in the U.S. It's just on that one graph. We just are identifying those 10 specifically. So we're seeing a surge in cases in many states in the U.S. Because we're doing more reporting in the U.S. But there's a couple of things to note about this graph. One, it's showing total confirmed cases over time. So it's going to be increasing for every state no matter what, because the cases will never obviously, the total cases will never go down. The other thing to note is that a lot of that is actually about the testing that's currently being done. And New York has taken some pretty amazing steps recently in terms of their testing capabilities. And they're actually testing a larger percentage of the population in that state than has been done even in South Korea, China or any other state in the US. And so a big reason for that surge shown is that those are positive tests, which are only possible if you're actually doing tests.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    So the more testing you're able to do, the faster your numbers are going to go up, because we're just measuring confirmed cases. So is flattening the curve happening elsewhere in the world? And how likely is that in the U.S.?

  • Lauren Gardner:

    Flattening the curve is definitely happening in some places around the world. It's happened in China. We've seen it happen in South Korea. And I think it definitely can happen in the U.S. as well. It's just should not be expected to happen tomorrow.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    All right. Lauren Gardner of Johns Hopkins, thanks so much.

  • Lauren Gardner:

    Thank you.

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