EpidemicDrive - what can we do and expect when an epidemic hits

This drive covers epidemics – not just the coronavirus but any future epidemics. It explains how epidemics start and happen, how they spread, what people can do about it. It also considers the long term impacts, not only of the epidemic but of the steps taken to deal with them.

It’s called coronavirus from the word ‘corona’ which means crown in Latin – it has a series of crown-like spikes on its surface. When the disease affects humans, it is called COVID-19 named as Corona Virus Disease 2019 (the year it was discovered).  The virus is also called SARS-COV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2) as coronavirus is related to SARS – much less deadly but more infectious.

Click the button below to see a chart (updated regularly) of the cases in the UK from Statista.

Epidemic Facts


types of coronavirus cause 15-30% of common colds (SCMP) – the COVID-19 coronavirus is the seventh type identified which affects humans of more than 200 types.


AD was the start of the Bubonic Plague in Europe – it killed  50 million people – a greater &-age of the world’s population than anything else (HistoryExtra)


types exist of the Ebola virus, which was first noted in humans in 1976 and is named after the Ebola river in Africa (CNN Health)


is the number of people commonly cited to die of influenza in a given year with no complications (SCMP)

Things about the Pandemic

What we can do

Wash your hands!

Social impacts

Mental Health Issues

Take care of your mental health during the pandemic

Arguments during lockdown

What can you do during lockdown?

Will the coronavirus make us better people (more societal)?

What is societal anyway?

What are people’s attitudes to the current situation?

What are people’s values and are these different?

What are Brits thinking about the coronavirus?

What’s the worldwide view?

Physical changes over the last years

Changes in society over the last years

Will we learn?


The Coronavirus Pandemic

What is the coronavirus?

This scrolling infographic from the South China Morning Post (SCMP) goes through different types of coronaviruses, explains how they spread and how they affect humans. 

It opens in a different window – click on the image then scroll down.

What's the current situation worldwide?

The interactive map from John Hopkins university allows you to look at any particular country and see the latest figures.

This real time dashboard from John Hopkins University has the latest numbers for COVID-19 cases, deaths, recoveries and more. It’s sorted by country and state and updates in real time.

It opens in a different window – just click on the image and bookmark the page!

How are different countries doing ?

Different countries are at different stages in their battles against the disease, and are taking / have taken different steps in their efforts to contain the spread.

The Financial Times (normally subscription based) has made this dashboard available to everyone. It shows charts and tables on the countries affected, and also looks at the ongoing economic damage caused by the virus.

You can see this here.

Which Countries Are 'Flattening The Curve'?

Flattening the curve means slowing the rate at which people become sick. Given that 15% of people infected develop a severe infection and 5%  are critical and may well need ventilation hospital treatment, this can easily overload a health system, as has been seen in Northern Italy.

Italy reported its 100th case on 23 February – on 22 March it had more than 53,000 a compound daily rate of over 23%. Daily quarantine was introduced on 9 March.

The chart shows the number of cases since a country recorded its 100th case.

100th case covid-19

Consequently it is important to any country that it slows down the rate at which people become ill. 

China and South Korea in particular have ‘flattened the curve’ of the outbreak – even though the true numbers affected are almost certainly higher than reported, the spread is slowing.

How does it compare to other pandemics?

This infographic (from Visual Capitalist with sources including WHO and CDC shown at the bottom) shows a history of the world’s  deadly pandemics.

pandemic history

What Can Governments Do ?

Why do epidemics spread exponentially (technically exponential growth is when the rate of growth is proportional to the current amount).

Once you’ve had the disease and recovered, it’s believed you have immunity and don’t get sick or pass it on. Ideally once enough people have had the disease, we develop ‘herd immunity’ where enough people don’t get the disease and it dies out.

China tried Forced Quarantine Hubei province.  Social Distancing is avoiding public gatherings, staying at home and keeping a distance from others.  It can be applied to a moderate group of people or more extensively – some people will always have to do key jobs. 

The problem is that enough people get sick at the same time the Health Service can’t cope and we see the pressure like in northern Italy, and people die.

The Washington Post has a great interactive page which allows YOU to model these different approaches and see what the different outcomes are.  It shows the numbers of people healthy, sick and recovered and how these change over time in different scenarios. Try it here – it opens in a new window – scroll down and have a look.

To summarise, it models a fake disease which spreads even more easily than Covid-18 through a population of 200 people; when a healthy person comes into contact with a sick person, they get sick. When they’ve recovered, they can’t catch it again nor transmit it. The chart below shows the results of free for all movement, forced quarantine, 3/4 of people social isolating and 7/8ths of people social isolating. 

covid-19 simulation results

Grey is healthy people, brown is sick people and pink is recovered people. You’ll see the ‘curve’ of people getting sicker is higher in the first two simulations.

What's the Death Rate?

The death rate of the coronavirus is difficult to measure. At the time of writing, there have been 40,636 deaths from 923,470 confirmed cases around the world, or 4.9%.  This compares with a death rate for seasonal flu of 0.1%.

The figure is hopelessly unreliable, depends on what we’re measuring and varies hugely from country to country. We don’t really know:

  • how many would have died anyway
  • how many people have been infected with only mild symptoms and not counted
  • who has been tested
  • how old the infected people are
  • the way the country report the cause of death

Note that in the UK about 150,000 people die every year between January and March – the vast majority who have died have been over 70 or had a pre-existing condition.

Look at the curves for all countries

The European CDC produced a worldwide situation update which is updated daily. You can search for any country or look at regions. It’s from Our World In Data and can be accessed via the post from Visual Capitalist here

Examples are shown below of the curves for Europe and Asia from 31 March. You will see that the curve for Asis has flattened more.

asia curve covid-19

The box below shows some information on exactly how bad the coronavirus epidemic is and why. Hover over it and it will show you some arguments that suggest we are overreacting and that the situation isn’t as bad as is being reported.  Click the button on the back to see this second point of view and YouDrive’s thoughts!

The Coronavirus explained

this animated video by Kurzgesagt still provides a handy explainer on how the virus works. It’s about 8 minutes long

A TED talk on the COVID-19 Pandemic

This talk explains more about COVID-19 and how it fits in with the global health system.

"They said that a mask and gloves were enough to go to the supermarket. They lied, everyone else has clothes on."
Just a joke

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See what other things can help

More information

NHS provide information on coronavirus and advice on symptoms and self isolation

The government publish daily information on the number of cases and more information

The NHS as part of their every mind matters provide advice on maintaining mental wellbeing during this time

The World Health Organisation provide a global update on the coronavirus epidemic

This infographic from the South China Morning Post has fascinating information on the virus

This world map by John Hopkins University is updated daily and has many worldwide facts 

The European CDC have a chart updated daily which shows how the curve of people affected by COVID-10 is progressing – available in the Post from Visual Capitalist here

The World Health Organisation have an interesting paper on how infectious disease epidemics can be managed – go to the page where you can download it here

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control released their 7th update on the coronavirus – download it here

Imperial College have been advising the government on coronavirus actions. Download their update from 30 March here

Glocalities did a survey online in China between 23/1/20 and 13/3/20 looking at attitudes to lockdown

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