What are the Best COVID-19 Data Resources?

May 20, 2020 · 6 min read

By Ben Kickert

In the face of mounting pressure to reopen economies despite the ongoing nature of the coronavirus pandemic, government leaders, businesses, and individuals are looking for data to inform their decisions. But, with so many options out there, which sources are most reliable and useful?

In today’s article, we will explore some of the best resources, which have been broadly grouped into the following categories: Government Information Portals, Aggregation Data, Secondary Data, Data Visualization, Data Analytics, and Other Resources. Data related to forecasts and projections will be covered separately.

Government Information Portals

Center for Disease Control and Prevention, United States
The CDC coronavirus website includes general information on the disease, its symptoms, and proper protocols to prevent transition. It also hosts a wealth of direct data sources including: Interactive Data Tracker, Weekly Data Summary, Forecasts and Models, Data Visualization, Testing Data, Hospitalization, Health Care Capacity, and COVID-related Mortality. The CDC also provides details on “excess deaths” across the US population. This figure goes beyond confirmed COVID-19 deaths and looks at overall mortality trends.

World Health Organization
On a global scale, the WHO is the pandemic authority. Like the CDC, the WHO offers a significant collection of data resources on its main portal. Its dashboard allows users to browse data and visualizations by country and region while also giving access to the underlying dataset. The Explorer provides customizable charts to track cases and deaths based on population.

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
Those in Europe can find detailed local information coming from the ECDC. Its dashboard provides country specific data as well as a variety of charts and interactive visualizations to track the spread and impact of COVID-19.

Aggregation Data

Apart from government sources, many entities from universities to non-profits to private companies are aggregating global data. Two of the most respected are below: Johns Hopkins University and Our World in Data.

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
One of the most widely cited sources for COVID-19 statistics, the Johns Hopkins data tracker, includes interactive global as well as US maps, and a collection of critical trend charts. All of its data is also available via GitHub.

Our World in Data
Affiliated with the University of Oxford, Our World in Data provides a downloadable dataset which can be utilized by users along with helpful charts and details specific to countries, mortality, cases, testing, and policy response. It also provides an interactive data explorer.

Other sites provide derivative data, but with additional functionality.

The COVID Tracking Project
A project launched by The Atlantic, the COVID Tracking Project increases data access by offering an API as well as a downloadable spreadsheet of its data.

Corona Data Scraper (CDS)
CDS is an aggregation site providing access to numerous primary and secondary data sources related COVID-19.

The dynamic-counter based website quickly rose to prominence with their Coronavirus Tracker and its simple interface. It has been widely cited and even incorporated into other datasets. However, some have raised concern about the validity of its sources.

Secondary Data

Secondary data explores information relevant to COVID-19 and its spread, but not directly tied to health metrics.

Mobility Data
As we noted in a previous article, both Google and Apple have made headlines by sharing their location based user data to help researchers understand movement and high risk areas. Helpfully, Apple has also provided a download of the material as a CSV file.

Unacast Social Distancing Scoreboard
Using travel data and other public sources, Unacast has created a scoreboard to grade to what level individual locations have been limiting movement and practicing social distancing. Data is available for different countries as well as US states and counties.

Data Visualization

Information is Beautiful
This site provides stunning interactive infographics related to COVID-19 including trajectories, mortality risk, and comparitive stats with other diseases.

Established by scientists from the New England Complex Systems Institute, Harvard, UCLA, MIT and elsewhere, this site provides visualizations on global prevalence, spread through travel, and comparative “curve” tracking.

Financial Times Coronavirus Analyses
Some of the most helpful infographics around have been produced by the Financial Times. It has made access to COVID-19-related content free for all users. Its work on regional death toll variations is particularly useful.

Using data sources made public by other researchers, 91-DIVOC (COVID-19 spelled backwards) has created useful charts tracking trends of spread by countries and states.

Tableau Global Data Tracker
Building on the data from Johns Hopkins, Tableau has created an interactive tracker that focuses on global hotspots.


Wolfram Research
Using the Mathematica analytics software package, Wolfram has created an array of data tools and demos using publicly available data.

JDeep Knowledge Group
This tech consortium provides rankings of countries based on risk and response to COVID-19 among other analytics.

ARRIA COVID-19 Live Report
ARRIA is known for its work around artificial intelligence and natural language processing, but it has put tools to public use with its Interactive Dashboard providing detailed charts on reproduction estimates, hotspot analysis, growth trajectories and more.

Other Resources

The following resources and lists provide access to additional datasets and tools not covered above.

Academic Data Science Alliance (ADSA)
ADSA has provided a collection of hundreds of datasets and tools all categories by type and topic.

The geographic information systems company ESRI has compiled a collection of applications using ArcGIS to track COVID-19 related issues. A dashboard providing country and state specific resources is available with many services delving into particular issues not covered by larger entities.

Ben Kickert has worked in international development and data analytics for 15 years. He currently works as a consultant providing insights around the Sustainable Development Goals and Impact Investing.

Keeping track of progress on trying to count and measure…

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