I used Benford’s law to analyze COVID-19 in 113 countries

Benford’s law

How it works

*Benford’s law apply to most sets of naturally-occurring random numbers. But it won’t work with things like say… people’s height. No human being in history has ever been 300cm tall.

Detecting fraud

Analyzing COVID-19

Does it actually work?

Leading digit distribution in world numbers (grey) vs expected distribution (red)

What should we analyze, exactly?

  • A) Daily new cases
  • B) Daily new deaths
  • C) Daily cumulative cases
  • D) Daily cumulative deaths

Why 113 countries?

Let’s do some math

And the winners are…



Some interesting findings

  • With cumulative cases, the variance in MAD (0.4 for Ukraine to 14.6 for China) is much greater than with new cases (0.68 for Germany to 6.91 for Tajikistan). It’s fairly logical, actually. By definition, new cases are more random than cumulative cases because they don’t depend on the numbers from previous days.
  • Italy has the 2nd worst MAD when it comes to total cases. But the 2nd… best MAD when it comes to new cases.
  • China has a crazy MAD of 14.1 for total cases. But a very good 2 for new cases.
  • Tajikistan is in the bottom 10 for both measurements.

This is where it gets interesting…

Horizontal axis is cumulative cases, vertical axis is new cases



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Kevin Basset

Kevin Basset

Founder @ Progressier, ex-VP Marketing & Maker of the Very First COVID-19 PWA