Uk Coronavirus Lockdown, Coronavirus

Uk Coronavirus Lockdown, Coronavirus

Whether it’s cock-up or conspiracy, officials are still feeding the public misleading statistics

The misuse of statistics has been one of the major criticisms levelled at politicians during the pandemic

10/21/2021 8:30:00 PM

The misuse of statistics has been one of the major criticisms levelled at politicians during the pandemic

Hospitalisation figures do not paint full picture, with as many as a quarter of those listed having been admitted for another reason

So it was reassuring to find out on Thursday that the head of the UK Statistics Authority was also concerned about the misrepresentation of data by the Government.Speaking at the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs committee, Sir David Norgrove told MPs that “we’ve intervened more during the pandemic and made more comments than in the years before”.

“With statistics, it’s usually cock-up rather than conspiracy,” he added. “They are under pressure and they get themselves into a hole and we have to help dig them out.”Yet despite this, nothing seems to be changing.At a press conference from Downing Street on Wednesday evening, Dr Jenny Harries, the chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, took the public through slides showing that there were currently 7,891 people in hospital with Covid in the UK.

What she failed to mention is that this figure does not only include people admitted with Covid, but also those who test positive for coronavirus while in hospital for another condition.Hospitals were instructed to distinguish between the two groups earlier this year, but so far it has not filtered down into the official figures. headtopics.com

In fact it is only possible to find the data by scrolling to the very bottom of the “Hospital Activity” page of the NHS website. Even then, the figures are woefully out of date.At the most recent count for England on Oct 12, 26 per cent of the overall cases were not primarily Covid.

If that was extrapolated to Dr Harries’ British data, it would mean that more than 2,000 people included in the Government’s press conference figure are actually in hospital for other causes.A similar problem can be seen in the daily reported death figures published on the Government’s coronavirus dashboard. On Tuesday, many experts seized on 223 reported deaths to argue that Britain should enact Plan B restrictions.

But the reported death data does tend to jump around depending on the day of the week and reflects deaths over several days. Look at the figures by “date of death”, and it is clear to see the situation is largely plateauing.Dr Jason Oke, a senior statistician at the University of Oxford, pointed this out earlier this week, saying: “As we have said right from the beginning, we need to focus on deaths by date of occurrence, not deaths by date reported.

“Reporting Tuesday’s numbers – always the highest – in isolation, tends to exaggerate things, and gives no indication of current trends, which has if anything been slowly falling through September and October, [and] no guarantee of future trends of course.” headtopics.com

A quick look at the figures from the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) show a marked increase in cases reported to the regulator over the past year.Between April 1 2020 and March 31 2021 the OSR dealt with 323 cases, three times the normal volume, and the highest number to date.

Nearly 70 per cent were related to the pandemic and half involved complaints over quality, reliability and trustworthiness.At the committee hearing, Prof Sir Ian Diamond, the national statistician, said he had instigated “data masterclasses” for MPs and civil servants, in an attempt to improve the use of data.

But he admitted: “I’m not going to pretend you can do one data masterclass and flick a switch and everything is perfect.” Read more: The Telegraph »

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