Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) became a pandemic within a matter of months. Analysing the first year of the pandemic, data and surveillance gaps have subsequently surfaced. Yet, policy decisions and public trust in their country’s strategies in combating COVID-19 rely on case numbers, death numbers and other unfamiliar metrics. There are many limitations on COVID-19 case counts internationally, which make cross-country comparisons of raw data and policy responses difficult.
Purpose and conclusions
This paper presents and describes steps in the testing and reporting process, with examples from a number of countries of barriers encountered in each step, all of which create an undercount of COVID-19 cases. This work raises factors to consider in COVID-19 data and provides recommendations to inform the current situation with COVID-19 as well as issues to be aware of in future pandemics.