The misrepresentation of coronavirus numbers in England

The Times today

From sam:

The story of a mystery surge in Scottish deaths appears in today’s Sunday Times behind a paywall so not completely visible to me. 361 additional deaths beyond those at this time last year.

It has already been raised with our FM who is , for the moment,unable to explain the cause but, for sure an explanation will come. Travellingtabby’s excellent website has a little corner tracking these excess Scottish deaths. No doubt the excess is to be seen across the UK

Meanwhile, in England, medical experts journalists and politicians continue to make false claims about the number of deaths in England daily. This from Richard North.

“Yet, this is manifestly not true. It is not even close to true. When we refer to the NHS site, and specifically the spreadsheet breaking down the 823 people who died in English hospitals, we see that only 115 occurred in the previous 24 hours.

A further 325 are recorded on 9 April – the day before that – and 161 are allocated to 8 April, while another 209 are split between 1-7 April. The remaining 12 deaths occurred in March, with the earliest new death taking place on 25 March.

There is no secret about this – the NHS is openly publishing the daily breakdowns, starting from 2 April. This means that there is now a far better opportunity to build a picture of Covid-19 mortality, albeit that the data are still fragile, for the reasons pointed out yesterday.

What is inexplicable, therefore, is the willingness of ministers at the daily No 10 pressers, to allow the interpretation that we are being offered clean figures for each of the preceding days. That this is then compounded by the media adds further to the mystification, as the data continue to be misrepresented.

Bringing it almost to the level of high farce, we then have the BBC’s “Head of statistics”, Robert Cuffe, solemnly offer us an analysis, telling us that “the growth in the total number of new deaths has stalled in the last four days”.”

8 thoughts on “The misrepresentation of coronavirus numbers in England

  1. I feel everyone accepts the NHS are publishing figs correctly as they apply to ‘hospital’ deaths but a feeble attempt this morning by Andrew Marr to hold Ministers to account with estimates there maybe more than a 1000 more deaths in the ‘Communitry’ in England not being reported and dare say hidden to save any more embarrassment. The figure was of course casually dismissed by the Tory Minister being interviewed as something of an irrelevance and ‘not what viewers would want to know’ ???? As one other Labour MP suggested said with no PM and no Parliament sitting the Gov are getting away without proper scrutiny

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My comment was not about a “huge rise” in unexplained deaths in England. The second part of my comment was about the misrepresentation of the numbers in England dying daily as a result of covid19. It may be the case that Scotland does the same but I think this is to do with the reporting of deaths over the weekend. The FM is open about this. English Ministers are not open, leading to the farcical situation that a BBC statistician uses the inaccurate data to comment on numbers of deaths. Sorry if I did not make things clear.


  3. John,

    But, but there may be huge misrepresentation of deaths in England, maybe Scotland too.If you die in hospital in England and evryone thinks you died of covid 19 you will not be counted as a death from covid19 unless you have have been tested for covid19 and the test result is positive. Because the UK chose to abandon testing for covid 19 (probably it never had the intention to test widely) and went into lockdown later than Ireland, both England and Scotland have higher mortality rates than Ireland.

    The question for this pleb is whether Scotland will change policy to save lives, assuming it has the will and capacity to test widely. I would guess prospective new CMOs will also be thinking about this. Time will tell.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “… you will not be counted as a death from covid19 unless you have have been tested for covid19 and the test result is positive ..” Well yes on certain tightly defined measure but …!

      OK there may be deliberate misrepresentation of data – including by omission – and there may be poor and confusing media reporting even accepting it to be a complex matter. However, the above statement on counting is not the full story.

      On 15 April the Office for National Statistics is scheduled to publish its regular weekly data on death registrations for England and Wales.

      These have now started to report deaths where there is ‘mention’ of COVID-19 on the death certificate. The ONS is also now publishing data on where COVID -19 deaths occur – ‘places of occurrence’. These places include but are not limited to hospitals, care homes etc.

      (My understanding is that the National Records of Scotland is publishing something comparable based on all ‘mentions’ but not – at least not yet – on differentiated ‘place of occurrence’..)

      The snag is that the ONS reports on weekly registrations only 11 days after the end of the week being reported. So in the present context there is a substantial time lag. This is likely to prove especially impactful over the coming weeks on the data on COVID-19 related deaths occurring outside hospitals.

      (So we have multiple and variable time lags between date of infection, date of death, date of death registration and then date of data publication.)


      Liked by 1 person

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