Covid trends, face mask use, and the universal credit cut
A coronavirus check-in, our daily mask use measured, and a minister's claim on the universal credit cut questioned.
There was a time when the latest Covid statistics were headline news daily, but as the pandemic has stretched on into its second year and third wave people don't pay as much attention. But on More or Less we still keep an eye on them because that’s how we roll.
A recent article estimated that 129 billion single-use face masks are used every day around the world. It sounds wrong, but how wrong is it? And how did it get so wrong?
Making up the shortfall from the £20 weekly cut in the universal credit benefit means working an extra two hours a week - or an extra nine, depending on who you listen to. We run the numbers.
Plus, has the number of periods women have in a lifetime increased fourfold? And how many holes does a drinking straw have?
How many holes are there in a drinking straw?
Tim Harford talks to Jordan Ellenberg, professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, about the pandemic, geometry and drinking straws.
(multi-coloured straws/Getty images)
Death, Tax and Dishwashers
New data appears to show that double vaxxed people between 40 and 79 are getting Covid at higher rates than people who are unvaccinated, but that's not the case. It's all down to how Public Health England estimates the size of different populations.
The Office for National Statistics described 2020 as "the deadliest year in a century". Now that we're more than two-thirds into 2021, we examine how this year is shaping up. We answer your questions on the new health and social care levy, and have words of congratulations and caution following Emma Raducanu's astonishing win in the US Open. Plus, where do you stand on in the dishwasher vs kitchen sink debate?
Mathematician James Ward
Adele Groyer of the Covid-19 Actuaries Response Group
Helen Miller of the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
Vaccine waning, hot dogs and Afghanistan
Should we be worried that the protection against Covid-19 provided by the vaccines is going down? Could it really be the case that eating a hot dog takes 36 minutes from your life? The Bank of England holds 35% of Government debt. Who owns the other 65%? Has the UK spent more on Test and Trace than on its operations in Afghanistan?
The Bill for Afghanistan
American President Joe Biden has said the war in Afghanistan cost more than $2 trillion. Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Centre for Strategic International Studies helps us unpick what’s included in this figure.