Title: Benford law and the reliability of COVID-19 data in western Balkan countries
Authors: Eralda Gjika - University of Tirana (Albania) [presenting]
Lule Basha - University of Tirana (Albania)
Abstract: Almost 1 year after the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic the figures published by the institutions responsible for information in some states leave doubt in their statements. There are some probability tests used for the reliability of the information, among which Benford's law is the one also used in fraud detection. The focus is on the Western Balkan countries where the appearance of COVID-19 was delayed by almost 2 months. We have analyzed through Benford law the reliability of the figures published each day by official state institutions: new cases displayed and deaths by COVID-19. The western Balkan region is considered, and for a better view of the results, we have also studied the situation in some of the most vulnerable countries during October 2020. What is noticed within the analysis of these data is the evidence of manipulation in published data in western Balkan countries and also in some other states which may be affected by many factors such as the number of tests per day. Policymakers should take into consideration veracity of the information before undertaking policies which can have consequences for the country and its population.