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Data, Analytics and Risk Management lessons from COVID.

Aiden Heike

31 August, 2021

Aiden Heke, Chief Executive Officer, Decision Inc. Australia

What if we demonstrated good vs great execution of our vaccination program resulted in a difference of 50,000 total case numbers in NSW?

Apologies for the blatant clickbait headline, but we think you will find the COVID analytics insightful, and you may learn a thing or two. Analytics can help us better understand the current COVID situation, the imperative of vaccination, and how we are progressing against the government modelling. It may even offer a small ray of hope of an early exit from the lockdown carnage.

 We will consider:

  1. The COVID lessons of the dynamic nature of analytics and decision making
  2. The risk management and analytics business lessons

It is important to remember and acknowledge the amazing work our frontline health workers are doing, whether supporting the thousands of daily COVID tests or helping accelerate our much-needed vaccination program. Let’s get into the analytics and look at what a difference they have made.

Our first dashboard has a lot of information, but let’s break down what is important. We like to call this Dashboard the ‘Curve’

  • The contagion rate (Reff)indicated by the blue line has varied from 1.25 to 1.8. What does this mean? For every person that gets COVID, they pass it on to 1.25 to 1.8 other people. Getting below 1 is the goal to start the decrease of case numbers.
  • The pink line provides a daily case number prediction with standard deviation for those math geeks amongst us by the link shade. Note three things; peak in late September, total case number estimates of 144,000. And zero cases on New Years Day, now that will be a party!

This dashboard gives us the projected outcome on the projected vaccinations, but our analysis tells us we are doing better than anticipated.

Our second dashboard shows our outperformance of the government vaccination rate projections. We call this dashboard the ‘Overachiever’. The ‘Actual’ blue line of vaccination is ahead of the government projected yellow line. This brings our exit date forward for vaccinations.

What happens if we continue with the accelerated vaccination program? For one thing, that New Years Day party comes early. Reviewing the next dashboard; ‘Curve ++’ tells us a few things:

  • Daily case numbers peak at just over 2,300
  • We drop to zero cases by mid-November
  • Total cases are limited to 94,000

What is driving the vaccination program momentum? Everyone is doing their part. Our fourth and fifth dashboards, ‘Stampede’ shows older age groups are tailing off as the age group is saturated for both doses and 16-59 age groups are accelerating in line with vaccine availability. Each week our daily vaccination numbers improve.

Why has it been so difficult to understand the reporting, implications, and predictions for this Delta driven wave?

It is hard to believe the first cluster was reported in December 2019. Australia experienced peaks on the 21st of March 2020 and the 1st of August. Our analysis was relatively one dimensional. One virus strain, r-factor (new to our common lexicon pre-COVID), bed and ventilator availability, and mortality rates. We watched the WHO and locally published infection rates daily for signs of bringing COVID to heel and allowing our economy to restart.

And just as we felt life was returning to normal, the next variants entered Australia and we had to be reacquainted with our business continuity plans and the Greek alphabet, Alpha, Beta, Gamma and

Delta, variants of concern. What may be less well known are the seven other variants of interest, Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta, Iota, Kappa, and of most recent investigation in Australia, Lambda.

The vaccination program and its options have generated increasing debate over socially distanced coffees. Suddenly a pseudo-single-dimensional issue has become a multi-dimensional challenge with any number of possible outcomes. All needing to be considered in real-time by our policymakers to minimise the impact on lives, livelihoods, and our economic recovery.

Our analysis and public reporting of the crisis hasn’t changed much since mid-March last year. Let’s consider why not. In the interests of simplicity let’s call last year’s pandemic – COVID19 and the current outbreak COVID19++.

Data Analytics_Covid_Decision_Inc.

The difference and complexity between the two scenarios are dramatic with much greater data inputs required.


        • Total cases
        • New cases
        • Total Deaths
        • New Deaths
        • Total Recovered
        • New Recovered
        • Active Cases
        • Serious Critical
        • Total Tests
        • New Hospitalised
        • Total Hospitalisation
        • Infection Rate or R-Factor

COVID ++ Data (including COVID Data)

      • What is the Reff for Delta
      • What is the infection rate for a community case
      • What is the ICU bed utilisation
      • How many cases equate to hospitalisation
      • How many infections will use all ICU bed capacity
      • How many vaccinations can be administered per day
      • What are the projected double dose completions per vaccine type
      • When could we hit 70%, 80% or 90% vaccination
      • What is the infection rate for different age groups
      • What is the infection rate for different demographics
      • What is the economic recovery lag period

Is the government reviewing the full data sets and making decisions? I don’t think the key dates and how they align with our analysis are coincidental. Dr Kerry Chant and Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who in my humble opinion are doing an excellent job in a situation with no rule book, will be looking closely at the same projections. They have struck a careful balance between public safety and changing public behaviours to drive the vaccination program momentum.

How does this data suggest we should respond from a risk management perspective?

We have consulted with our partner ABM Risk Partnership, experts in the field of Governance, Risk, and Compliance, to determine how organisations should consider this information in light of their own circumstances.

Context is key in risk management – every organisation is different and the impacts (good and bad) of the pandemic will be felt differently. Different scenarios could arise – when we achieve 70% vaccination rates, what will the best, worst, and likely scenarios look like for your business?

The analysis in this paper suggests that the ‘so what?’ for organisations is the positive benefits of promoting vaccination amongst their staff and business partners, regardless of the scenario they face. It helps the business, its customers, and the community generally. Look out for a separate article from ABM Risk Partnership on how organisations should consider their stance on vaccinations.

We will always recommend a robust process for making key decisions such as these. The high-level framework that Decision Inc and ABM Risk Partnership use to consider & combine both internal data and that of the external operating environment is shown below:

What are the GRC and Analytics business lessons?


  1. Data and analytics are dynamic, and business leaders must constantly monitor the outcomes sought and data driving the insights. Assuming COVID19 and COVID19++ are the same is dangerous.
  2. Good risk management requires good data and clarity on the details and context of the scenario you are examining. Should we be worried about infection rates in isolation, or the impact on our health system, and what lead and lag indicators can drive vaccination rate acceleration? If your organisation is not seen to be part of the solution, does that imply it is part of the problem?

If you have read this article and realised, you need these types of insight in your organisation but don’t know where to start, consider a Decision Inc. Analytics Visioning workshop. We provide a simple framework to understand how to join your business and analytics strategy and build the right plan to take advantage of the data gold mine you are undoubtedly sitting on within your business.

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