A Change to Our Data Sources: Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker Blog
(Bloomberg) -- Today we’re making some changes to our data sources — the next big step in how we report global Covid-19 vaccine data.
When we launched the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker in December 2020, our data was entered entirely by hand. Government reporting methods were constantly in flux well into 2021, and we determined that the only way to ensure accuracy and timeliness was to have people review each website, every day. At its peak, our team grew to more than 60 newsroom volunteers, in addition to dozens more around the globe who helped chase down Covid-19 vaccine statistics from local health authorities.
Those efforts helped us understand the ever-changing data sources and to publish the best possible numbers of how many vaccine doses were being administered. We were also able to push U.S. and international governments to publish more and better data, and to correct errors found by our teams.
As the global vaccine campaign has matured, however, so has the dissemination of vaccine data. We’ve been able to incorporate automated scrapers as well as turn to third-party sources like the World Health Organization and Johns Hopkins University.
After more than two hundred data shifts since the start of our project, we’re taking the next step and will now be relying entirely on a combination of our own automated data scrapers and third-party data sources. We’ll also be adding Our World in Data’s vaccine information into our sources for a handful of countries.
Over time, the datasets maintained by WHO and Johns Hopkins have expanded, and governments improved their own data reporting. While no source is exhaustive, the combined efforts have led to more redundancy and accountability in global vaccination tracking — to the point that we now feel comfortable moving to a more fully automated system of scrapers and expanded use of third-party data sources.
Our new model captures data from all of those sources and chooses what we believe to be most up-to-date. With more than 183 countries around the globe, plus more than 100 additional states, provinces and territories that we’re tracking, there’s no single source for the most comprehensive or up-to-date data at any given time.
So what does this mean for you, our reader? For most people, there will be very little noticeable change. The data we publish will look more or less as it did, and we’ll continue to publish every day.
We’ll have more to say in a bit about what we’ve learned about the data response to the pandemic, the value of real-time information and the global infrastructure for health information. That’s its own huge story, and we look forward to telling it.
In the meantime, this is a moment to give a massive thank you to our data-collection team, who put in thousands of hours of work to bring you the latest vaccination data every single day for almost nine months. They deserve a well-earned break, and we’ll let the robots do the heavy lifting from here.
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