Guardian 19th July

In a piece broadly sympathetic to the First Minister and Scotland’s covid strategy, the Guardian writers seem to feel the need for ‘balance’ and use anything they can find even if it’s wrong. Truth, fairness and accuracy are what readers need. You wouldn’t expect to have balance on a piece about the health risks of smoking so why would you need it for a piece on a health strategy which has reduced covid cases and deaths to almost elimination levels?

Here are the offending bits. First:

On the downside, Scotland has the highest death rate for coronavirus in care homes in the UK. Some 47% of all Covid-19 deaths have been in care homes in Scotland, while in England the figure is about 27%.

This is plain daft. Those stats tell you that the percentage of all covid deaths in Scotland which were in care homes was higher than in England, not that there was a higher rate in those homes.

More important than the percentage of all covid deaths that were in care homes is, surely, the overall, per head of population death toll in care homes, ie did Scotland or England have more care home deaths as a percentage of their overall populations?

Data from research by LSE, reported on May 14th in Care Home Professional:

More than 22 000 care home residents in England and Wales have died during the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research. In a new paper, the LSE said data on deaths had underestimated the impact of the pandemic on care home residents as it did not take into account the indirect mortality effects of the pandemic and/or because of problems with the identification of the disease as the cause of death. The paper said current data only accounted for an estimated 41.6% of all excess deaths in care homes.

https://www.carehomeprofessional.com/research-estimates-put-real-care-home-covid-19-death-toll-at-over-22000/

In Scotland, up to 17th May, there were 1 623 deaths in care homes where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/covid19stats

The population of England and Wales is 59 million, 10.7 times that of Scotland at 5.5 million so, all things being equal you might expect the death rate there to be 10.7 times 1 623 or 17 366.

So, the actual care home death rate in Scotland by mid-May, based on the LSE research was 21% lower than in England & Wales.

Second:

There are tentative signs that Sturgeon’s handling of the crisis may be bolstering support for the nationalist cause. One recent poll showed 55% of Scots now favour independence.

Tentative? One?

Third:

In a move that led her political opponents to criticise her for political posturing, Sturgeon threatened recently to close the England-Scotland border, while Johnson has claimed no such border exists.

This is, of course totally untrue. The FM made no move and has made no move. The move was by the media to push the FM on something, leading her to then say that she ruled nothing out. Not quite the same thing?