Opinion – The importance of data science during the pandemic

On July 6, 2021, the First Lady of Namibia, Monica Geingos, announced on her Twitter feed that her office had partnered with experts to post weekly updates that analyze and report on the Civd-19 situation in Namibia.

In a weekly review for the period June 27 to July 3, Seodhna Keown and Nandago Kauluma present a graphical interpretation of people tested for Covid, infection rates (people who tested positive for Covid) and positive ratios, among other representations graphics. The importance of collecting, interpreting and analyzing data during this unprecedented time cannot be overstated.

Not as an end in itself but rather as a facilitator for informed decision-making. By using this very important branch of public health science to analyze and interpret information as it arrives, the Department of Health is better equipped to respond and deploy resources where they are needed most. .

Over the past two days, Namibia has witnessed how the epidemic (in Namibia) has shifted its epicenter from the central Khomas region to the neighboring Omaheke region in the central east.

By bringing together the data collected over the previous weeks, scientists are able to bring together different pieces of information.

Allowing to analyze and understand the similarities and differences in the way the virus attacks different populations.

Epidemiology, the scientific, systematic, data-driven study of the distribution, frequency, and patterns of health-related conditions, can be used to understand how the virus behaves in different ethnic, socio- economic and cultural; (by cultural groups, the author refers to rural / urban areas as different cultural contexts).

In an audio recording released before his death, Ovaherero Supreme Leader Vekuii Rukoro can be heard making a heartfelt appeal to his subjects.

Urging them to change their cultural norms and practices relating to large public gatherings during this period, as the country experiences the third wave of increased infections.

Could this be the reason (public gatherings) that the disease moved the epicenter from Khomas to Omaheke?

Only data can tell us.

Data can also tell us what needs to be done. In new measures and regulations announced by the head of state, the president announced a restriction on public gatherings in an effort to reduce the spread and rate of transmission of the virus. One of the health measures that have been proven to curb the spread of Covid-19 is the adjustment of human behavior, according to official sources.

Based on evidence seen in videos circulating on social media, the president’s pleas are still being ignored by certain groups of people.

One of the questions asked of the First Lady about her #LOVEProtects #DoYourPart campaign that she is facilitating is: “Are religious and traditional leaders and members of the Ovaherero and Colored communities more affected by Covid-19 deaths?”

Only data science can answer this question through the use of epistemology. “Epistemology is the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its method, validity, scope and the distinction between belief and justified opinion.” Only data science can answer the question put in by the late Supreme Leader Ovaherero, the same question that the person asking the First Lady is asking of “whether the coronavirus is disproportionately affecting certain ethnic groups in Namibia compared to others “.

Public health science is an academic stream of knowledge that focuses on disease prevention with the goal of increasing the life expectancy of a population.

In addition to disease prevention; public health science is also concerned with health promotion by informing and equipping populations with the tools necessary to prevent epidemics; manage epidemics and deal with the consequences of an epidemic. Public health sciences use a multidisciplinary approach of integrating epidemiology, biostatistics and health sciences to improve and ensure positive health outcomes for entire societies. This multidisciplinary approach uses information systems to collect, store, analyze, collate and extract data in order to better understand the behavior of a particular virus or disease outbreak. As the virus continues to spread, it will be interesting to watch how the government uses the data collected as part of efforts to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic.

Previously, the Ministry of Health only made available raw data in the form of counts describing the number of deaths, the distribution by sex, the absence or presence of comorbidities among the deceased, their age and whether they were been vaccinated or not.

Much more data needs to be collected in order to understand the trends in the disease and for the government to respond accordingly.

Covid-19 patients with underlying health conditions and co-morbidities would be at greater risk of dying than those without underlying health conditions.

But this claim has not been proven by statistical analysis and display to motivate people to make better life choices.

Other theories circulating are that socio-economic factors do not play a role in health outcomes for Covid-positive patients and that the rich and the poor are on an equal footing when it comes to exposure. at Covid. Only statistical analysis by collecting and interpreting data can prove these claims.

The importance of data science during a pandemic is crucial to understanding the virus, in order to mitigate the virus and help end the virus which is currently the number one public health problem across the world.

2021-07-21 Vitalio Angula

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