Good with numbers

Tomorrow's Business

There are lots of numbers attached to the virus, and nearly all of them are confusing or open to interpretation.

Did Matt Hancock hit his target of 100,000 tests a day, or not?

If he was there or there abouts, does it really matter?

One of the roles of the financial press is to a) debunk official figures, b) put them in context.

I don’t think the FT had its finest hour yesterday when it reported that the cost of vaccinating us all against Covid-19 could be more than $20 billion.

It had that figure in the headline as an indication that it thinks $20 billion is a lot. How will we ever raise that money, was the gist of the story.

As some on Twitter pointed out since there are 8 billion people in the world, that’s less than 50 cents each.

Which means you and I could easily pay for everyone we know. And everyone we know could pay for everyone they know. Jeff Bezos could pay for it all himself and still have a fortune of $110 billion.

So on the FT’s own figures, saving the planet will be incredibly cheap, once we have a vaccine that is.

The 100s of press releases that flop into inboxes each day are full of numbers, many of which lack explanation.

In some contexts $20 billion is a huge amount of money. And sometimes, it really isn’t.

Contact the Tomorrow's Business team news@tomorrowsbusiness.co