‘Absolutely madness’: Melbourne teenagers reveal they are behind leading Covid tracking website

It turns out one of the most authoritative Covid-19 tracking sites in Australia is run by three teenagers.

The trio, who have been running CovidbaseAU, became part of their own statistics after getting their first doses of the Moderna vaccine in Melbourne.

The identities of the brains trust behind CovidbaseAU had not been public before Thursday afternoon, when 14-year-old Wesley with Jack and Darcy, 两个都 15, tweeted a photograph of themselves.

They said they looked forward to joining the 25.30% 的 12- to 15-year-olds in Victoria who had received at least one dose of vaccine.

CovidbaseAU has been tracking Covid-19 statistics since April 2021, breaking down Australian and global data on infections, hospitalisations, deaths and vaccinations.

The Melbourne teenagers told ABC TV on Friday the project was initially planned in February “just for fun”. It was a means to pursue their interests in coding and the media.

“Being really interested in data, we decided to take what we’ve been doing and create something with it. We spend a lot of time on it to try to make it as comprehensive as possible,” Jack said.

Eight state and territory governments, as well as the federal government regularly release Covid-19 data, often in different locations and formats.

Darcy said he wanted to “put it together and display it on a website so it’s accessible for everyone”.

As the vaccination rollout, and Covid cases, ramped up across the nation, their social media feed and website continued to pick up pace. They have amassed more than 25,000 Twitter followers.

Now no longer a hobby project, the site the teenagers built and operate hosts a wealth of data – breaking down Australian cases by state and local government area. It includes detailed information such as the percentage of cases that end up in hospital or intensive care units.

It’s not an easy job, and CovidBaseAU requires a trio to run smoothly. Jack has always been the data guy, Darcy is the coder and Wesley is the all-rounder – keeping on top of events, making infographics and emojis.

“马上, we’re in Melbourne and we’re in lockdown so that’s sort of given us a lot of time to be able to do things more freely … we do get all our school stuff done, don’t worry, but it’s a bit a juggling act,” Jack told ABC TV.

Nick Evershed, the data and interactives editor at Guardian Australia, said CovidBaseAU had done impressive work collating hard-to-find information.

“There has been a few occasions, particularly with the numbers around vaccine imports and supply, where I’ve cross-checked my numbers against theirs,“ 他说.

“They did a really good job at combing through all the disparate media releases and press conferences in the early stages of the rollout to piece together a good picture of how many doses Australia was producing or importing at various points, which was extremely helpful as I was compiling similar data.”

Jack, Wesley and Darcy were praised by fellow Twitter users after revealing their identities, amassing more than 16,000 likes in a 24-hour period, as well as a part-time job offer from the head of public health at the Burnet Institute.

“You three pull off some awesome work!” Ben Krauth wrote. Prof Mark Stoove added: “Nice work boys! Need a part-time job?”

To the latter tweet, Jack replied that he usually worked in a restaurant (but not during lockdown) while Darcy did some work on thermal modelling. Wesley wasn’t yet 15 “but thanks!”, Jack wrote.

CovidbaseAU Twitter handle is regularly cited by mainstream media as a data source.

“We did expect it to do fairly well, but what has happened is really mind-blowing. We’ve got, 我认为, on Twitter, the last time I checked, over 14,000 likes. That’s absolutely madness for us,” Jack said on Friday.

The trio was buoyed by the fact it was the act of receiving a Covid-19 vaccine – the jab they’ve been tracking for months on end and the ticket out of the pandemic – that generated so much interest.

“I know a lot of my friends, just around my age, they’re all very keen [to get vaccinated]. I think it’s great to see the sort of real excitement around it,” Jack said.