COVID-19 – Florence Nightingale Diagrams of Deaths in England & Wales

April 24, 2020


Plot to 25th December 2020


When time-series data is plotted as a normal x-y plot with the time variable along the x-axis it is difficult to identify seasonality or other factors that may influence the data.

Florence Nightingale used a form of radial plots to display data from the Crimean War that demonstrated the death rate amongst soldiers could be reduced by better hygiene practices.

Plotting the weekly numbers of deaths using this radial form demonstrates the variability during the first months of the year – For example, deaths from “Aussie flu” in the first weeks of 2018 can be observed. The increase in the number of deaths from the first week in April 2020 can clearly be seen.

Radial plots are available in all the main stats packages (Radar plots in Excel, several procedures in R, proc gradar in SAS,  RADAR in STATA).

Irene M. Stratton MSc FFPH

Senior Statistician
Gloucestershire Retinal Research Group


Jason Oke and Carl Heneghan commented on earlier versions of this graph