Coronavirus: graphics explain how it works and what we can do

Might have to hang never seen so many people in the world so thoroughly with scientific Together looks like these days. However, the employment was perhaps never so urgently needed as now: Because to work correctly on the novel Coronavirus to respond, it is important to understand why it is so dangerous.

Hans-Ulrich Jörges

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In particular, graphical representations will help, because the Virus spreads so rapidly that our mind comes assets hardly. Especially in social networks, graphs that show how quickly the Coronavirus is spreading, what the consequences may have and how to fight it can be spread for several days. The most important keywords of the “exponential slope”, the “Flatten the curve” and the “Social Distancing are”.

We present in this article are some illustrations, which are just often see and explain, which constitute the Coronavirus pandemic useful and which are not.

The flattening of the curve

This graphic should now have seen almost everyone, and the underlying principle is understood. It shows how different the history of the spread of the Coronavirus can look. The Virus is spread, is not the Problem – this will not prevent it. The decisive factor is the Tempo, however.


The curve of the contagions is increasing exponentially, so in an incredibly rapid pace. Every person who carries the Virus, infected several more, these other and further infect. Are now infected very many people at the same time, exceeds the number of severe cases of the disease to be medically treated, the capacity of the health system. It is a collapse of health care threatens, as in Italy, with many dead. The pace of the infection has to be, and the curve flattened slows down, so that the severe cases are spread over a longer period of time and from the health system to absorb.

Social Distancing

How can flattened the curve, and the spread of the Virus to be delayed? The drug of choice is the so-called “Social Distancing is currently”, so the radical Reduce of touch and physical social contacts. The Art Director Gary Warshaw has created on the Basis of research of the stem cell laboratories Signer Laboratory in San Diego a graphic that shows how effective this method is. The image is currently (divided also in German Translation) in social networks and in chat groups.

An infected Person moves in the same way that infected you, within five days, statistically two and a half people saw. Within a month, more than 400 people are affected. Completely differently it looks, if the infected Person moves to 75 percent less than in the past. Then be infected within 30 days, only two and a half more people.

Animations, the American newspaper “Washington Post” for their Online edition has create, show this Decline in the rate of infection is particularly illustrative. The brown dots-infected people, the gray healthy, the purple for healed people. May all the people move freely, is passed on the Virus in the wind, the curve rises steeply. The more points on your place to stay, the slower the Virus spreads.

The Match-Metaphor

Another image, which is divided into a lot these days, shows a series of matches, lighting each other. You take out of this series now for a match, the fire will extinguish. The presentation goes back to an Animation artist Juan Delcan from Los Angeles. The message: If someone in the chain pulls back, can the Virus be stopped.

The principle is similar as with the other representations of Social Distancing, but in Detail this logic falls short. In the case of a Virus that is spreading in the population, is the issue more complex. Although every individual to align in the fight against the Coronavirus can, by pulling back. But none of them will alone be able to the Virus to stop it from spreading to quickly. For an area-wide behaviour change in the population.

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