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The great wave: the Covid distruptive effect told through the data

13 September 2021
An original data driven survey is the result of a scholarship funded by SISSA and the writer Paolo Giordano

“An epidemic is so dangerous because nothing happens until everything happens. The great wave fed on bodies, growing exponentially doubling after doubling, until in March it became the largest blue mass we’ve seen in decades. As in wartime, there were no more good decisions but only some less bad than others”.

These are the words of Davide Mancino describing the pandemic in the first pages of his long and in-depth data journalism investigation “The great wave”. It is the result of one of the two scholarships of the Interdisciplinary Laboratory of SISSA – Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati, with the collaboration of SISSA Data Science group, for an original and unpublished journalistic investigation based on the data of the Covid-19 pandemic in Italy. The scholarship was co-financed by the School with the contribution of the writer Paolo Giordano, teacher of the SISSA Master’s course in Science Communication “Franco Prattico”, with the proceeds from his book Nel contagio (Einaudi, 2020).

From “patient zero” in Italy to the effects that Covid-19 has generated in the health and economic systems, the investigation recounts the evolution of Covid pandemic starting from the data with in-depth links, stories and interviews, ending in an analysis of what did not work and why.

“Davide Mancino’s survey is the result of a meticulous work that lasted a year on some of the most significant questions regarding the pandemic in which the answers are finally found in the data” says Paolo Giordano.”The results of his investigation demonstrate how the impact of the public crisis in which we have been involved for almost two years is still unknow, and above all  they confirm the need for quality journalism that requires time and resources. on the pandemic data. I hope that my decision to donate my book’s proceed to this and the other survey on the pandemic data already published by Riccardo Saporiti could encourage similar initiatives”.

The work is available on, published in English thanks to the collaboration with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) of Washington on

Press release