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BBC Radio 4 - More or Less

More or Less: Behind the Stats

Tim Harford and the More or Less team try to make sense of the statistics which surround us. From BBC Radio 4

More or Less: Behind the Stats

  • How many swimming pools full of vaccine do we need?
    If we brought together all the Covid 19 vaccine needed for the whole world, how much space would it fill up? An Olympic size swimming pool? We do some back of the envelope sums. Plus - we look at the increased risk of clots from pregnancy. Last week we looked at the increased risk of getting a clot from taking the combined contraceptive pill and compared it to risk of possible rare clots identified following the Astra Zeneca jab. How does pregnancy compare?

  • Clot risks: The Pill versus the vaccine
    The Astra Zeneca Covid 19 jab remains in the headlines because some regulators have concluded that it may raise the risk of a very rare type of blood clot, albeit to a risk that is still very low. In the past few weeks a number of countries have said they will limit its use to older age groups. But people are drawing comparisons to the contraceptive pill which is well-known to increase the risk of clots and asking why this level of risk is tolerated. Is this comparison fair? Tim Harford speaks to Professor Frits Rosendaal from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and Susan Ellenberg, professor of biostatistics at the University of Pennsylvania.

  • Too fast for Minecraft?
    The impressive speed records of a well-known gamer called Dream for the video game Minecraft have come under scrutiny. Many say that Dream has completed speed runs in such a fast time that it doesn’t seem possible. Are these suspicions correct? We speak to stand-up mathematician Matt Parker who has looked at the probabilities on the elements of chance in the game to see if these records seem plausible.

  • In praise of Covid Data
    On this week’s programme we talk to Clare Griffiths from the UK’s coronavirus dashboard and Alexis Madrigal from the Atlantic Magazine’s Covid Tracking Project in the US.

  • Deciding when to suspend a vaccine
    Many countries recently decided to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine over fears it was increasing the risk of blood clots. The European Medicines Agency and the WHO called on countries to continue using the vaccine but regulators in individual countries opted to be cautious, waiting for investigations to take place. But why? Tim Harford explores the risks of blood clots and weighing up whether it was necessary to suspend using the vaccine.