15 April 2020

Susanne Ditlevsen in the media about corona statistics

MATH in the media

On 14 April 2020, the newspaper website Berlingske.dk brought an interview with Susanne Ditlevsen, professor of statistics, in which she repeated her call to conduct randomized tests of a wide sample of the population. Otherwise, authorities will grope in blind if another wave of corona virus strikes later in the year, she believes.

Susanne DitlevsenSusanne Ditlevsen says to Berlingske.dk that there is "some guesswork" when the authorities try to estimate the extent of the disease. She therefore suggests starting a study of thousands of randomly selected Danes to be tested once a week in the coming months.

“Nobody knows what's out there. We must test now; it must be continuous and long. (…) The numbers are crucial to how much intervention in society we need to make when the virus strikes again, and we can only catch them now,” says Susanne Ditlevsen.

She guesses that you have to test once a week if you wish to collect good data. That estimate is based on the assumption that one can be infected for two weeks without showing symptoms. Therefore, in order to get a closer look at the disease, you have to test twice within that period.

Susanne Ditlevsen tells Berlingske.dk that, for example, 7,000 randomly selected citizens could be tested on a continuous basis once a week over the coming months. The director of the National Board of Health has a goal of 15,000 daily tests. 1,000 of these should be invested in in the future fight against the corona virus, says Susanne Ditlevsen.

Berlingske writes that the State Serum Institute has "plans" for further investigations, but at present, they are "not concrete".

Read the article from Berlingske.dk 14/3 (requires subscription) in Danish.

If you are Spanish speaking you can also hear Susanne Ditlevsen in an interview about mathematics and covid-19 with the University Hospital of Albacete in Spain. (The footage from the Department, with staff and students at the campus, are made some years ago).