As early as January 20, we checked the data on international flights out of Wuhan, and realized it was a major hub: more than 2,000 international flights in a single week. That, we feared, meant that the new coronavirus could rapidly expand.
We quickly discovered that covering the Covid-19 epidemic would mean data gathering operations in dozens of countries.
As a major news organization, we decided we could not rely on secondary sources to cover the path of the epidemic. We needed to provide fast updates, alerts and trends. Relying on other organization’s sources, schedules and updates was risky. Johns Hopkins University for instance, had a very good base, but waiting for their updates could significantly delay us.
Our interactive team also designed Data driven videos (DDV), connected to the Covid database with special templates to produce 10 to 15 second video sequences. These feature either the number of cases or deaths or the trend of the pandemic for any given country, region or the world. The videos can be created with three clicks by video or social media editors, without motion design or dataskills, a convenient tool for breaking news content.
The Covid-19 data we gathered was made available to the public via our AFP Interactive page, where cases and deaths are automatically updated in five languages (French, Spanish, English, German, Italian). The embeddable version of this interactive graphic has been viewed 96 million times since March 2020.