The Unstoppable Spread of COVID-19 (Animation)

The Unstoppable Spread of COVID-19 (Animation)

High-resolution animation of the global spread of reported infections with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, causing COVID-19. The displayed period ends on 25 April 2022, at which date the COVID-19 pandemic had infected over half a billion people and tragically claimed millions of lives.

The brighter a pixel, the higher the number of momentarily infected people per unit surface area. Colour is used to distinguish between different virus variants. More precisely, this animation uses a hue-saturation-lightness (HSL) colour model, where the lightness increases monotonically with the reported local counts of currently infected people per unit surface area. A non-linear, approximately logarithmic mapping allows for a high dynamic range of densities to be displayed simultaneously. Different virus variants of “concern”, as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO), are distinguished by hue: orange for the Alpha variant, yellow for Beta, green for Gamma, blue for Delta, and purple for Omicron. The original “wild-type” variant, as well as less significant mutations are collectively shown in red.

The video relies on publicly available data in 370 distinct political regions, which include states/provinces for the USA, Brazil, China, Canada, and Australia. The most important input datasets are daily COVID reports provided by the WHO, complementary data from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering (JHU CSSE), and local estimates of COVID variants based on genetic sequencing, made available by Emma Hodcroft at These regional data are combined with a high-resolution (2.5-by-2.5 arcminutes) population density map (2020) published by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC). Statistical methods were applied to complete missing and unreliable data points, regions and time periods in these datasets.

The virus count on the top right is an order-of-magnitude estimate of the total number of viruses copied since the start of the pandemic, consistent with research results by Ron Sender et al. 2021 (

Further credits:
Virus animation: adopted from a protein model by Alexey Solodovnikov published at “N+1”.
Music: “Evolution” by
R-package “covidregionaldata” (

► Support via PayPal: