Comparing COVID-19 testing and positivity rates in Europe (August 8)

Date of article: 8 August 2020

'Persons tested' vs 'Samples tested'

When comparing testing activity, it is important to realize that some countries are reporting on the amount of 'persons tested' and some countries are reporting on 'samples tested' (or simply 'labtests done'). As an indication, in countries reporting both numbers, the amount of 'samples tested'/'labtests done' is calculated by multiplying the amount of tested people by somewhere between 1.3 and 1.6.

This means that the countries reporting on 'persons tested' likely tested ~1.5 times more samples than persons. Please keep this in mind when reading the following map and charts.

Current COVID-19 testing activity in Europe

The following chart shows the current COVID-19 testing activity relative to population size in Europe. Testing activity is calculated using the daily average of tests performed, over the most recent period of 7 days for which test data has been released by national authorities. Antibody tests have been excluded in this comparison. The exact calculated values are given in the following bar chart.

Current positivity rates in Europe

When a country publishes data on confirmed cases and testing activity, we can also calculate the positivity for that country. The 'current positivity rate' is the ratio of confirmed cases (last 7 days) to the number of performed PCR-tests (last 7 days). The following map shows the current positivity rate for countries in Europe.

Note in the above map, for some countries data on 'persons tested' is used. The countries are: Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Serbia. The exact positivity rates as calculated are given in the following bar chart.

The bar chart clearly shows that Armenia is currently still has by far the highest positivity rate in Europe. This is not a surprise, as I have been monitoring positivity rates in Europe for many months and Armenia has been the European country with the highest positivity rate for three months now. The good news however is that Armenia had a positivity rate up to 36% in early June and has been going down since. Especially in July the current positivity rate decreased from 32.8% (July 1) to 18.5% (August 1).

Looking to the rest of Europe, there's not one clear conclusion to be drawn. The amount of countries seeing an increase in positivity rate is similar the number of countries which are seeing a decrease in the positivity rate. However, in certain regions (e.g. Western Europe) there are some neighbouring countries with similar trends (e.g. Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Spain all are seeing an increase in the positivity rate).

Additional sources used

Although most European countries report every day on testing activity, some countries only report once a week on testing activity. At this moment in time, Newsnodes only gathers testing data by countries who report on COVID-19 testing every day, so to create the above map additional I gathered additional data. Because the day that weekly testing data is released can be different for each country, some data might be a few days up to 1 week old.

Below are some examples for traceability purposes of the above data.

Source: RIVM

Source: Point épidémiologique, Santé Publique France

Source: COVID-19 Situationsberichte, RKI

Source: Ministerio de Sanidad, Consumo y Bienestar Social

article by Newsnodes



Date Country page
24 Oct,01:07 United States
23 Oct,21:54 Czechia
23 Oct,19:23 Czechia
23 Oct,11:05 Belgium
22 Oct,20:25 United Kingdom
22 Oct,12:06 Australia
22 Oct,09:13 Australia
19 Oct,15:58 Norway
18 Oct,22:16 South Africa
17 Oct,16:28 Lithuania


Date Country page
24 Oct,01:08 Colombia
24 Oct,01:08 Singapore
24 Oct,01:07 Brazil
24 Oct,01:04 United States
24 Oct,01:01 Egypt
23 Oct,22:19 Ecuador
23 Oct,21:49 Ghana
23 Oct,21:48 Spain
23 Oct,21:42 Dem. Rep. of the Congo
23 Oct,21:41 Australia

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