Some questions on the numbers

In the week ahead Parliament will debate the lock down, and government will determine a back to work policy. To do so, they need to examine some of the  numbers they are using carefully.

  1. Comparative deaths globally. It is quite wrong to say the UK after the US will have the most deaths. The government must adjust the death figures for population, which so far shows Belgium heading the lists, and the USA still relatively low
  2. The government needs to do more work on trying to get comparable death rates. Some other  countries only list hospital deaths. There are different views on whether dying with Covid 19 is the same as dying of Covid 19. The UK figures for deaths have probably been boosted in recent days and weeks by counting more deaths where the patient died without a Covid 19 test as a Covid death, and by adding in non hospital deaths to the total. It is a  bad idea to change the way you calculate numbers over time for  a series when you are using the curve of that series over time  to determine policy.
  3. Now there are so many more tests available the government needs to start testing a sample of the total population to get figures for how  common  this disease is, and to chart that over time.
  4. The accuracy of the tests. I have been given widely different figures for how many false negatives the tests might provide. There are apparently issues about how to secure a good sample so any disease does show up.
  5. How good are the returns reported centrally from Care Homes, as most of these are privately owned institutions that are not formally part of NHS management and reporting systems.
  6. Future capacity of the NHS. The government is right to want reassurance that the NHS can cope in future as it has done so far. There needs to be a rebased figure for Covid care beds and Covid Intensive care beds in the system in a world where there is also  capacity for other serious medical conditions. Will the NHS move to identifying specialist Covid hospitals and units, to free more District General Hospitals to do everything else?
  7. The value of R or the reinfection rate. We were told this week it is currently 0.6 to 0.9. That is a very wide range. How can it be more precisely and accurately be discovered, where there are not sampled tests of the whole population over time? Doesn’t it need regular sampled testing to  get it more accurate? As  great stress is placed on R, it is crucial to get it right.
  8. Will the government publish the range of forecasts of deaths from the disease their experts have come up with, and show us the trend in these forecasts?  That too is important in making a judgement.
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  1. Mark B
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    First. Let me thank our kind host for putting up my post from yesterday. Shame everyone else had to wait. The irony was not lost 🙂

    1. It is not a competition and you cannot compare oranges with lemons.

    2. And what of deaths to non-CV19 ? You know, the ones where people are too affraid to go to hospital because of CV-19 and die as a result or miss important examinations to determine possible life threatening illnesses such as cancer ?

    3. Too late ! Just test those that are at high risk either due to the nature of their work and because of the risk of the desease to them.

    4. If we cannot garentee to accuracy of the tests, then why bother with the above item (3) ?

    5. Care homes are a worry. The NHS sent many elderly to them and I fear the worst.

    6. What were the Nightingale Hospitals for ? We already have enough spare capacity. Various dance-off’s between hospitals support this.

    7. R-Values are meaningless. An R-Value for someone in a built up metropolis like London might make sense but, if you are living on a remote Scottish croft, who cares ? What I am trying to say is, why shut down the whole country just because the likes of London are a higher risk ? Makes no sense.

    8. Are these ‘experts’ prepared to put their reputations and jobs on the line if they are wrong ? If not, then I see no reason to take as gospel on what they say.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 6:07 am | Permalink

      What were the Nightingale Hospitals for ?

      Well to show the government were doing something by putting lots of beds and partitions into existing building and some nice Nightingale Hospital Signs up and lots of ambulances in front of it as a big PR stunt. Also giving the Countess of Wessex something to open.

      Clearly they do not have any free staff for these places anyway. It seems the NHS cannot even keep normal operations going after all.

      • Cheshire Girl
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:08 am | Permalink

        Its easy to criticise, but after the scenes from Italy, there was a good possibility that our Health Service would have been overwhelmed.

        If that had happened, the critics would have said we hadn’t done enough. The truth is, the Government will be criticised whatever they do. They are aided and abetted by the BBC and other sections of the Media, who think they have all the answers, and are happy to give us the benefit of their ‘expertise’ from their comfortable homes and studios.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted May 2, 2020 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

          Well they let about 24,000 people die of Covid without them even getting to hospital, surely not all of them opted for this? Why, if they had capacity, did they not take some of these people in? I can only assume they had lots of beds but no staff.

          If so what was the point of the beds?

        • Hope
          Posted May 2, 2020 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

          The fact JR and Liam Fox questions the veracity of the figures should ring alarm bells to everyone in the nation that the govt has not followed science alternatively, ministers do not have basic grasp on figures for graphs!

          CG, no there is a catalogue of errors by the govt. the govt flipped flopped to change its strategy but has failed to tell the nation why.

          Johnson blurted out the 500,000 averted death nonsense the other day. Has Prof. Ferguson provided the code so his modelling can be verified for accuracy by his peers or other professional bodies? Why has the govt failed to get it verified with such devastating consequences, economically and health of public?

          What is very clear the Govt resoundingly failed to protect us from the Chinese virus by stopping or considerably slowing it down by failing to secure our borders! It also appears the dullards followed the WHO advice in February to continue to allow travel from China when China had stopped internal flights! Were the govt following the same science/scientists? If so you would have thought the govt would have stopped listening to that science after all the devastation to life and economy to date!

          • Lynn Atkinson
            Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

            Well said.

      • Stred
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

        Someone asked about freeing up space in hospitals in order to resume treatment for the usual patients with life threatening diseases in the PR presentation yesterday. The Chief Officer replied that the Nightingale was a specialist hospital fitted out for Covid patients needing ventilation and it was not suitable for ordinary patients. That must have been the best example yet of sn expert not understanding the question. The staff and equipment could move to the Nightingale and free up the usual hospitals and they would then be free of cross infection. They really are hopeless.

      • DaveK
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:52 am | Permalink

        You cannot avoid being suspicious, when you have local authorities and the media proclaiming huge buildings being converted as morgues and the possibility of creating a “plague hospital” in areas with fewer cases/deaths. You would think they were increasing the fear on purpose.

      • Hope
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink

        Spot on JR.

        You missed the first crucial point: why were the figures to be used in a pandemic not part of the planning? Clue WHO is given vast sums of UK taxpayers money. Is it not their role to provide uniformity in a world wide pandemic!

        Hancock did himself and govt a huge disservice yesterday. He caused more distrust by trying to grab a headline when it was clear he fiddled the figures of posted 39,000 tests, without return to be included. Totally unnecessary. Ethics, Openness, transparency, confidence, trust, do these words mean anything to your govt anymore? People would have been very pleased of the improvement for the way forward and an authentic best effort than a sham. Did he break the ministerial code by deliberately not telling the truth?

        • Hope
          Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

          JR, It should be clear to your govt by now that fiddling or massaging figures will always come to light.

          Previous experience like the 80/20 cuts versus tax rises, balanced structural deficit by 2015, then altered to a percentage of GDP, immigration figures,etc.

          There are members of the public who can also add up! They can also get professional opinions from multiple sources in minutes.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted May 2, 2020 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

            Claims like we are repaying the debt (when they were clearly increasing it) or we are cutting taxes (when they were increasing that in spades too).

          • Alan Jutson
            Posted May 2, 2020 at 6:19 pm | Permalink


            An explanation was given yesterday, the same procedure has been used for the figures since they started the testing programme.
            Amazing that people still trying to find fault no matter what the government does, because its so easy to be negative with advantage of hind site.

            Why not ask why the beloved NHS Purchasing Sytstem/department failed, and the Government had to step in to sort it out.

            Oh that would have been a criticism of the HNS which is unthinkable. because its treated like a God.
            Frontline staff have always been excellent, its the management and admin that have always been dire.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 9:51 am | Permalink

        That is because a huge percentage of NHS employees were ‘working from home’ or ‘self- isolating repeatedly’.

        • hefner
          Posted May 2, 2020 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

          What percentage, please? With references to your claim. Thank you.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

            Well the government should publish it!

        • Lifelogic
          Posted May 2, 2020 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

          What is this proportion is it published?

        • Mark
          Posted May 2, 2020 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

          Scotland publishes data on their NHS employee absences. Absences have been running at around 6-8,000 out of 160,000 employees, so under 5%. It seems likely that percentage numbers for elsewhere in the UK would be similar.

      • BetterTimesAhead
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        You LL would have been the very first to carp about the Government not having enough ICU beds if we had been overwhelmed like Italy and NYC were.

        By all means criticise and undermine a Government you wish to bring down.

        But do at least try to resist denigrating all the efforts that went into the Nightingale hospitals.

        Besides, who knows, perhaps you and others may thank your lucky stars about the Nightingale hospitals, if you need a place, as and when further waves hit.

        Don’t rush to judgement about the Nightingale hospitals. CV is far from over.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

          This government is far, far better than a Corbyn one would have been.

          But if they have staff why were 24,000+ people allowed to die without even ever reaching a hospital? If they do not have the staff then why install the beds?

        • Anonymous
          Posted May 2, 2020 at 9:34 pm | Permalink


          I am sick of the MSM/BBC GOTCHA carping when the government has pulled out a heck of a lot of stops.

          The BBC is yet (if ever) to report on the 5 Eyes revelations about the CCP and WHO cover up.

      • zorro
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        Typical egotistical waste… The Chinese built a hospital in a week, look what we can do – pathetic waste


        • Fred H
          Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

          zorro – – The Chinese then closed it before equipping it to treat anybody. We restructured an existing building initially for 500 cases I believe, but claimed it could handle 4000. After much advertising how wonderful it all was, I believe a couple of handfuls of cases were taken in. Then staff and facilities were not available – essentially it has been mothballed.
          Better use would have been for quarantine of all arrivals by small boats, aeroplane ‘rescues’ etc.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      Dear Matk–Long time since my Maths, but not at all sure that R is a “variable” in any meaningful sense. Rather is it not a way of simplifying describing and suumarising what is going on? If everything else is improved the R improves. There is no knob to turn or formula to be used to change or calculate it. If it can be called a variable it is a dependent one. Makes the experts sound as if they know more than they do, which is I suppose a good idea.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

        If new cases are going up it is averaging above one if they are going down it is averaging below one. Rather like a nuclear bomb and a critical mass if each decay causes less they one further decay the “fire” goes out – if more then bang! As more people become immune R should slowly go down anyway.

        The real question is how many have now had it in places like London already?

    • Man of Kent
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      The numbers I am interested in as a mid 80 year old are what are my chances of, if having caught Covid , recovering from it and dying from it .

      It seems from the little I have seen that the death rate may be 15% meaning that the survival rate is 85%.

      I am perfectly capable of assessing risk for myself in shopping , meeting for my book club , having a social drink with old friends , visiting grandchildren …..
      Equally well they can all make their own assessments of whether they want to meet me and under what conditions .

      So give responsibility back to us !

      • Fred H
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

        What I would say, Man of Kent, is that you might do well to resist a ventilator – not a very good outcome for supposed benefit. And if you/we succumb, going more quickly might be kinder than prolonged drugged misery?

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:33 pm | Permalink


        If you become infected, then you may give it to others and they may die. The measures are to try to stop you and millions of others from doing that.

    • a-tracy
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      At least John is putting questions out there!

      Where did the Nightingale hospitals buy all those beds and equipment from so quickly? Who has 12000 hospital beds lying around in a warehouse, we can’t get PPE (missing stock possibly sold on the black market – interesting piece in the Guardian yesterday) but we can lay our hands on expensive beds and sheets etc. Plus all the icu bits and bobs?

      Just what % of nhs employees haven’t worked since March because of high risk, childcare, stress of the situation? Have these workers been furloughed or just paid 100% regardless?

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      If you are going to complain (again) about moderation times, could you do it at the end of your post? Sometimes your posts are interesting but I don’t bother reading the ones where you start with a bleat. Ending the post with your “I want people to read my posts quickly” whinges means I can skip the last bit rather than all of it.

      As you have so much to say why don’t you start your own blog?

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      No, it isn’t a competition but there are a number of experiments being run at the moment and differing results should prompt enquiry. For example, I see, from ConHome, that Slovakia has a stand-out low death rate. It mandates the wearing of masks. Perhaps that’s worth looking into.

      • Mark
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

        So does most of the former COMECON block, including East Germany, where rates are much lower than in West Germany. I suspect that is not just to do with masks, but rather the deeply ingrained ways of life that that inheritance gives them. There may be other factors too.

    • czerwonadupa
      Posted May 3, 2020 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

      Answer to No 5
      My friend a nurse works in a care home in west London. With no visits from doctors after a resident dies they have to phone a doctor who after listening to replies to his questions has said every time, “Coronovirus as cause of death” And this has been the standard reply to the 17+ deaths of residents so far.
      So a death certificate by proxy in the 21st centuary – Not exactly scientific

  2. oldtimer
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    I get the impression that whoever produces the numbers of deaths has great flexibility on how many to report. It is only in the past week that we have been given a rolling weekly average count to smooth daily irregularities. Your point 2 about not changing the basis of calculation is well made. It is precisely what happened in 1990 with the global temperature record. Then the old data collection method was dropped, preventing the possibility of a parallel run to understand the difference between the two series.

    The reality is that much of what passes for science is guesswork, some good, some not so good and some bad. There will be no perfect state of knowledge, something that the scientists appearing at the daily briefing now publicly acknowledge. Decisions on ending the lock down will be matters of judgment about a balance of risks. The huge damage being done to our way of life and our economy must now take centre stage as the primary areas of risk.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 6:34 am | Permalink

      So John wants us to hyperventilate over margins of error in the figures, rather than the fact that, however they are measured, tens of thousands have died here with hundreds more every day.

      On the other hand, in NZ, in anti-communist S. Korea, and in Vietnam, along with in other countries, there are no deaths at all reported.

      And we all know how that difference arose.

      • Edward2
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:38 am | Permalink

        You either want accurate figures or you don’t think it is important.
        No one wants to “hyperventilate ” except you Martin.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

          Infants are funny, because they require absolutes when relatives are all that is needed.

          It’s pretty dismal in so-called adults, however.

          • Edward2
            Posted May 3, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

            Sir John raised many important points about the way figures are compiled and presented.

            Having accurate figures is important
            You like to quote them from China.
            Perhaps that’s why you are not bothered about accuracy.

        • bill brown
          Posted May 3, 2020 at 5:08 am | Permalink


          or you in the case , when the British Empire “was the only one to give up territory”?????

          • Edward2
            Posted May 3, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

            I’m baffled bill.
            Was this meant for someone else?

      • DaveK
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

        Instead of your obviously political whine trolling, why don’t you suggest something constructive or even point out flaws to allow LFE. Why Sir John allows your Na Na Na Na Na posts is beyond me. Unless you are just unsubtle clickbait.

      • Fred H
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:40 am | Permalink

        Rather than the usual blah blah blah, why not be specific about what was handled badly, what you of course would have done better, what plans you have to move to one of these wonderful countries that show UK to third world?

        • Andy
          Posted May 2, 2020 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

          What was done badly?

          In January when it was clear a new deadly disease was coming from China our government was distracted by Brexit. It did not properly assess the risks.

          In early February when Germany was ramping up testing capacity we did precisely nothing. Other countries were stockpiling PPE. We did nothing. Boris Johnson had a holiday.

          In late February and early March as the extent of the pandemic became clear Italy and Spain locked down. We did nothing except advise people to wash their hands and sing happy birthday. We allowed large events like Cheltenham to go ahead. International football continued – with a team from Madrid, a virus hot spot, allowed to come to Liverpool. During this time New Zealand and Israel closed their borders and introduced quarantine procedures. We did nothing.

          Only now – three months too late – are we ramping up testing.

          We could not have stopped Coronavirus from coming here. But the extent of the outbreak, the number of lives it has claimed, the number of jobs it has cost, the number of businesses it has claimed, the length of the lockdown – these are all down to a total and utter failure of government.

          • Fred H
            Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

            Andy – -thank you for a reasoned argument. What we all want instead of spite. I agree with plenty of it.
            You didn’t respond to ‘what plans you have to move to one of these wonderful countries that show UK to be third world’.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

            Thank you Andy – I’m tired of repeating the litany myself.

          • Anonymous
            Posted May 2, 2020 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

            For a country that tells us “hold the handrail” and “mind the gap” and “do not drink this bleach” and “this pie may be hot”… we have a blind spot when it comes to trade and visitations from China.

            We don’t know if the next virus has already arrived from China. Because the only thing we know for sure is that THE CCP WON’T TELL US.

            Brexit voters wanted SECURE BORDERS but even now they won’t let us have them !

            How do you think CV19 arrived ? Teleportation ????

          • Mark
            Posted May 2, 2020 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

            Testing is no cure. Italy has tested a higher proportion of its population than Germany, yet has a much higher death rate.

      • Ian Wragg
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink

        I’m with Sweden. They won’t have a second spike because they’ve tackled the virus head on.
        Destroying the economy to save the NHS is stupid as there will be no money to pay for public services.

      • L Jones
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        ”.. in NZ… South Korea…” I wonder where you’re getting your figures from. There certainly have been deaths in those countries.

        ”Tens of thousands have died here…..hundreds more every day…” – 27,000 approximately – and not ”hundreds more every day” – unless these are just ”normal” deaths of which you speak. People die eventually, from many causes.

        Really, Marty, you should read more widely – though ”and get out more” might not be appropriate just at the moment.

        • hefner
          Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

          As of 02/05 20:020, from

          New Zealand infected: 1485+6, deaths: 20+1 ,
          4 deaths/million
          South Korea inf. 10,780+6, d: 250+2, 5 d/m
          UK: inf. 177,454+6201, d; 27,510+739, 405 d/m

          • hefner
            Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

            The +n corresponds to the number of infections/deaths in the last 24 hours.
            Also relevant is population density /km^2
            NZ: 18, SK: 512, UK: 279

      • Roy Grainger
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        More lies from Martin. “No deaths in NZ”.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

          I assume that readers are keeping up with the news.

          Those countries have reduced their fatalities to zero on recent consecutive days.

        • bill brown
          Posted May 3, 2020 at 5:12 am | Permalink

          Roy Grainger

          You are right about NZ, but Martin is also right about the facts he presented

      • Anonymous
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 11:35 am | Permalink

        Secured borders ? Largely mono-cultural (not much family visiting) ? Low populations ? Sparse populations ?

        The UK is a global transport hub and its cities are crowded and diverse (I would and could have moved to New Zealand or Australia if I wanted to live any other way.)

        But when (seeing as 5 Eyes reports have now revealed the lies and delays by the CCP) will you start blaming China instead of kicking your own country ?

        It’s like blaming the chap who was responsible for building Anderson shelters after a bombing raid has been through.

        I sense you enjoy it. But you can’t say “Told you so” because you never did Tell Us So.

        Just what precautions and provisions do we need to make in order for us to maintain healthy and safe trade with CCP run China ?

      • Margaret Robinson
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        Those coutries have completely different cultures to UK. They have few care homes because family take care of the old. They had 2 previous experiences of Chinese lies and coverups so on this occasion they mitigated the risk due to Sars Mers and Hong Kong viruses which had hit them really hard but with relatively few cases in UK. NZ does not have the density of population as UK. As major cities in the UK sprawled out to meet overtake towns and villages these are not only maintained in NZ but 50+ miles apart. Sheep farming is their main production with 10000000 acres given to it
        Source ONS since covid started 215 people with no underlying health issues died. 120 of them were medical workers. 9925 people over 80 with existing health issues died

      • Graham Wheatley
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

        And you believe their data?

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

          I believe New Zealand’s more than I do the UK’s yes.

          • Fred H
            Posted May 3, 2020 at 7:25 am | Permalink


    • Chris Dark
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:14 am | Permalink

      I’ve been disgusted at the manipulation of statistics. This isn’t science, it’s falsification. At college I would have got zero marks if I had presented my laboratory data and analysis without a standard calculation method. Ever since this fiasco started, people have been waving the flag about the way death-counting has been done. The truth is being obfuscated to death and the population treated like lab rats in some social experiment.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:14 pm | Permalink


      • Graham Wheatley
        Posted May 3, 2020 at 10:27 am | Permalink


    • David Jory
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      Agreed to an extent, but all science starts with a guess as Feynman said. However, real science then goes on to gather evidence to build a theory and then tries to refute it. A really good scientist tries to refute themself before others do.
      ‘Science’ that starts with a guess and finishes with an ‘irrefutable’ campaign is just fashion.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      The best guess is that all the excess over normal death rate (or even slightly more) is Covid related. What else would be causing this after all?

      • Fred H
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

        LL – – Loss of all hope, boredom, disillusion?

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

        Being denied critical hospital care, being afraid of going to hospitals after heart attacks etc because of being terrified of catching CV19 in hospitals? Watching you business and income go down the pan, experiencing total control – having to be fearful that your ‘excuse’ for being out will not be accepted. Phew – I could go on.

      • Mark
        Posted May 3, 2020 at 12:01 am | Permalink

        I don’t think that is necessarily the best guess at all. The evidence actually suggests the opposite: there are excess deaths been written up as due to the virus when they aren’t at all, but rather due to more people dying from things that they didn’t get to hospital for. The clue is that if you look at the supposed non-virus deaths there is a high proportion of women among them. We know that more men die from the virus (roughly 60:40), and normally, deaths aren’t far from 50:50 – by “borrowing back” some of the excess deaths from the virus to other causes you reduce the apparent excess of non-virus female deaths. It’s already clear that there are excess deaths that are not ascribed to the virus. WE know that the ONS are recording anyone with COVID on the death certificate as a virus death, even where other causes are given and likely to dominate.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    Well we know from excess death figures that we are nearly at 50,000 death caused by or accelerated by Covid 19 roughly half out of hospital. Prof. David Spiegelhalter suggests (in the Guardian) that “Many of these (excess deaths) will be indirect effects from the disrupted health service: routine treatments have been largely abandoned, A&E attendances and non-Covid-19 hospital admissions have plummeted.”

    I suspect he is wrong in this in the main. Usually when doctors cancel operations (or go on strike) deaths, at least initially go down at least in the short term not up. Road deaths and possible other infections due to the lock down with surely have declined too.

    The things I mainly want to know is what proportion of people have already had the virus? What treatments give the best chances of survival. Also how many have died in hospital without having full ventilation as a last resort and why? Also what percentage survive full ventilation. On Newsnight last night Sir David Nott suggested 35% did. We seem to know from the Liverpool University study that of those going into hospital 1/2 have recovered, 1/3 have died and 1/6 are still in hospital. If as is possible only one in 500 infected die from the virus we might already have had 25 million who have had it and are now hopefully immune. This would be very good news indeed.

    Overall uk Covid deaths (caused or accelerated by) are going to be about 100,000 in the end I would estimate.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 6:55 am | Permalink

      When doctors and surgeons return to their good works after a strike the death rates goes up again too. This has been observed in many counties that have had such strikes. Complex operations my often save lived but in the short terms they bring some death forwards.

    • Hope
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      We still wait to see if Prof Ferguson will produce the code for his modelling so peer review and professional bodies can test its accuracy. Johnson was very unwise to still make that claim of 500,000 deaths two days ago. Prof Ferguson was wrong, very way off with his predictions on previous occasions.

      What is a shock to me is that th govt acted on it without the model being reviewed by a group of experts. PHE and NHS England excluded as they have been dire from pre-planning to date.

    • rose
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      If deaths are going to be 100,000 then that is still better than 1968 when 80,000 died from Hong Kong ‘flu. Then, the population was much smaller, had far fewer old people, and almost no obesity. Comorbidities such as diabetes were less too. And because the population was so much smaller, there was less overcrowding. Not as many people lived out their last days in nursing homes which must be the most serious hazard of all at the moment apart from hospital.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

        We could actually save more lives, reduce out chances of dying from this virus and save money into the bargain. If only all the large number people who are overweight got it down to the normal BMI range and drank and smoked far less. Cutting their risks of diabetes II, cancer, knee, hip and ankle problems, cardio vascular problems and the likes.

        Probably about 20 times the number. Save the NHS eat less if you are over weight perhaps should be the message!

        • glen cullen
          Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

          And don’t forget to wear your elbow/knee pads, scrum helmet and safety boots etc remember the cost of slips, trips & falls to the NHS is huge

      • Sharon Jagger
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 6:21 pm | Permalink


        Agreed…. but we didn’t lock down the country that time! That’s going to take longer to recover from than the virus.

        • rose
          Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I hope I implied that. We didn’t for Swine ‘Flu either, when HMG was told by Professor Ferguson to double the NHS. There was “no money left” so that didn’t happen and the virus disappeared into the population instead.

    • Mark
      Posted May 3, 2020 at 12:04 am | Permalink

      Deaths in hospitals for non-virus causes have dropped sharply. But deaths in homes and care homes for non-virus causes have rocketed. People are not get treated for heart attacks and strokes until it is too late.

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    George Osborne (QT on Thursday) says if we want to spend more on public services we have to raise taxes (as he indeed did hand over fist mainly to waste them).

    He is (as usual) totally wrong. From the current hugely over taxed position (that he and Hammond have given us) then raising tax rates will not raise more money for the government to waste. Even if is does raise a bit more one year it just diminished the tax base for next year. This is made even worse by the economic damage done by this virus.

    There are though some win, win solutions. A massive bonfire of red tape and abandonment of the mad expensive energy agenda and zero net carbon lunacy. HS2 cancellation too would be a win, win. As would releasing all those state sector employees who do little of value (or of negative value) to get real jobs and tax simplification.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:36 am | Permalink

      Oh is he back with his “We are all in it togetherery “?
      I know what that means (as it did in 2008)…it means that some of us pigs are more “equal”than others ( “equality” not being for the gentry ) and WE pay!
      Taxes will grow great bat-like wings and soar!
      And locked-up in our caverns we’ll be lucky to afford a dry crust.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

        One huge unfairness is the self employed earning just over £50K get nothing when employed people get up £2,500 PM on furlough even if they were earning £1Million+ .

    • Bryan Harris
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink


      Agreed – Time to take the waste out of government – reduce the civil service and quangos and impose a realistic pay level on all who are to serve us.

      We should also see a reduction in personal taxation rather than a rise…!

    • MPC
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      Why do you keep implying that immediate cancellation of HS2 and of energy policy is in any way feasible? It would be more useful to hear any well thought out proposals for gradual and realistic shifts in policy in your many daily postings.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

        It is perfectly feasible and sensible. Alas corrupting vested interests seem to rule here and ministers roll over. There is clearly no other reason for this lunacy.

      • Mark
        Posted May 3, 2020 at 12:10 am | Permalink

        Given the recent problems with maintaining grid stability, not changing energy policy is not just feasible and sensible, but it is essential. We don’t want to add blackouts to our troubles. The latest problem is too much solar in the middle of the day, crowding out essential stabilisation capacity, so it will have to be curtailed as wind has been.

      Posted May 2, 2020 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      I actually feel nauseous even seeing an image of Osborne. Hearing his voice would I believe push me over the edge

      To hear a faux Tory demanding tax rises to finance an ever more powerful leftist political state that does the bidding of and for rancid Labour defies all rationale

      I honestly believe that people like Cameron, Osborne, May and Johnson are only concerned with managing events rather than changing events which was Thatcher’s mindset

      Who can we turn to to prevent a covert socialist takeover from within? Patel? Redwood?

      • Fred H
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

        Dominic – your 3rd para states it succinctly. Not much good at managing events, and worse at forcing change.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

        Only Redwood.

    • Hope
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      Osborn is wrong, not that you would believe a word he says, because radical change in public service could be made so there is far better value for money. This applies from local authorities, NHS, police, MOD etc. The successive govt. never make radical change.

      Just imagine how many diversity and inclusion bods there must be in the public sector that hinders its performance, Health and Safety risk adverse bods, no one ever treating public money as if it were their own for buildings or capital projects. Public sector accounting is shocking. If it were a private business they would all go bust. Overseas aid epitomises how to waste money when it is not your own money, Big Night in another example of govt carelessly wasting our taxes. UN, WHO of EU never expected to show real value for the billions of taxes they get.

      We have just witnessed the difference between keeping NHS testing totally centralised without any private interference. It failed, it could not work. Logistics for equipment and testing were appalling. Army and private firms changed that.

      When private firms, university and army included what a difference it made.

      Germany made the point it has a better mix of private firms included its health service who are capable of “ramping up” activity in a host of areas whereas the U.K. could not. The reason formcould not is political.

      It was about the political, politicians fixation over private firms being included in the NHS. Labour wants the NHS (like teaching) union dominated and weaponises it every time. Those dying or waiting for an operation could not care less if the private sector was in mix as long as they got the best service to make them survive/ get better. Tory govt have, again, failed to take this on. Dominic is right on many occasions how the left wing socialism continues to go unchallenged by true conservatives.

      Osborne is very wrong. Much better value for money could be achieved if there was a political will and determination to make it happen. We have had ten wasted Tory govt years. The cuts did not have to make a difference to service delivery. Most private companies would not have office administrative functions put above front line delivery. That is what we have with Police and NHS to name two. Two nurses or one diversity officer? Same for police. Multiply that by other jobs and roles. What is the core service for?

      • Hope
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink

        It should have been the govt. core value that in any budget cut in public sector that staff cuts must come from back room staff or management so delivery service of front line staff the golden egg. Sadly it was the other way around.

        Let us see how many useless quangos are dispatched this time around.

    • Andy
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      Again the Tory obsession with red tape. Who remembers David Cameron’s red tape challenge?

      At the end of that they cut or simplified 806 regulations – many of them concerning health and medicine – but were unable to say what financial benefit there had been for business. Probably because there was none.

      Rules and regulations exist to keep us safe and to make things fair. Of course we can always do better – and nobody wants unnecessary rules – but the notion that there are billions of bits of pointless bureaucracy harming our lives has always been nonsense.

      For four years Brexiteers have been tell us how Brexit gives them the chance to slash EU red tape. When us rejoiners have asked you which bits of red tape you will cut you all bluster about VAT on tampons and that’s it. You have nothing else. I expected lists of thousands of pages by now. And yet all the elderly men who sold us Brexit have is marginally cheaper Tampax.

      So tell us what EU red tape you are cutting? Precise regulations please. Between you too should be able to name a few? Meanwhile we need 50,000 extra customs officers to process the 400 million extra forms we need to import and export to the EU after Brexit. That sounds to suspiciously like red tape to me.

      Reply Start by scrapping Common Fishing Policy and various VAT impositions.

      • Edward2
        Posted May 3, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

        You have posted this challenge to name regulations you want removing on several previous occasions and I and several other people have replied several times with a list.

    • Robert McDonald
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      I would like to think that some lessons being learnt from this crisis are that working from home could be the future for many jobs, and there is less need to have massive offices located in city centres, i.e. London. Jobs can be done from smaller IT linked offices spread in less densely populated areas. The technology is there, the will is there, and the benefits are becoming more obvious – one being less power to the overpaid train and tube drivers with fewer rail strikes bringing London to it’s knees.

    • DavidJ
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      Excellent and necessary solutions. We should also stop funding the useless world organisations such as the UN and WHO to name just two.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

        Agreed. And we need to ask the former Empire for our independence from the Commonwealth. I read that Johnson has accepted CANZUK – free movement and free trade! Now the Dominions and the USA are our blood brothers but free movement? Chinese by the million allowed into Britain because Oz has allowed them in. NO – please!

  5. SM
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    I am concerned about the build-up of hysteria about Care Homes.

    It has long been the case that many costly hospital beds are being blocked by patients who are, effectively, waiting to die. It therefore makes sense to me that those patients should be sent to Care Homes, where they may find their final days easier than in the hurly-burly of a hospital ward.

    It is reported in today’s Daily Telegraph that attribution of cause of death in Care Homes has been quite unregulated, with covid19 being registered despite the absence of a confirmatory test or apparent symptoms. This supports your disquiet, John – and mine – about using conflicting and irregularly-acquired data.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 6:50 am | Permalink

      Covid caused (or accelerated) deaths are being under reported not over reported. We see this very clearly from the excess death rates. What else could be the cause? Boredom and family feuds perhaps, I think not?

      Sending infected (or likely infected) patients, often without even testing, into care homes as the NHS did aggressively was idiotic. Like introducing foxes into a hen house. Was this part of the long term care cost limitation strategy or just incompetence? The latter I assume.

      • Mark
        Posted May 3, 2020 at 12:14 am | Permalink

        The cause could be skeleton staffing in care homes (so people falling dangerously ill are not monitored frequently enough) and general reluctance to call for an ambulance when in fact someone is suffering a stroke or heart attack. In fact, the mortality data do not support the idea that covid is under-reported.

    • Richard1
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      Care home deaths are being recorded as Covid related even if there are no symptoms, it is reported. Also that doctors are ‘encouraged’ to record Covid as the cause. By whom and for what reason isn’t stated.

      The international comparisons are mostly irrelevant. There are all sorts of factors to consider – the age of the population, almost certainly the climate, as Vitamin D is a good protection. There is an inverse correlation between high rates of Wuhan virus and malaria, maybe because choloroquine is an effective antidote. And of course the concentration of population. No other european country has a city of 10m like London or New York, which must allow a virus to spread more rapidly.

      We will only know the relevant ‘performance’ some years after this is over when the age-adjusted excess death rate can be measured, and of course excess deaths caused as a result of the reduction in other healthcare services.

      The shrieking left of course want to blame the whole thing on Boris, or Trump, or maybe Brexit. But the country can see their rantings are irrelevant drivel.

    • jerry
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      @SM; I think you are getting mixed up between Care/Retirement Homes and Hospices!

      The first is a place older people live, often full and healthy lives, the other is a place the terminally ill go, often from hospital.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

        I think we all know that!

        • jerry
          Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

          @LL; Well I thought so to until I read the comment from @SM, so obviously not… 🙁

      • SM
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

        No, I’m not getting mixed up, you are.

        Some Care Homes are licensed to give palliative care to the dying, and I suspect there simply are not enough Hospices to help take more than their usual number. Also, Hospices often give respite care. Care Homes are NOT the same as Retirement Homes: the latter take residents who are still relatively capable of looking after themselves and getting around.

        • jerry
          Posted May 3, 2020 at 6:37 am | Permalink

          @SM; Stop using such a broad brushes.

          Care homes are not human scrap yards full of end of life people, some (perhaps many) residents just need extra help or reassurance that help in on hand. I knew a elderly person who went into a care home due to severe dementia, she lived -for her- another 20 or so happy years only requiring her dementia medication administered having no other medical illnesses, she ended up out lived both her husband and daughter…

          Not the same place but I also knew the owner of a Residential Home that cared for palliative care, medical recuperation, and those who simply decide they needed reassurance in a Hotel like environment. There has always been an element of cross over between the two, often the biggest difference being the costs to the resident!

          Perhaps you were thinking of Residential Hotels?

          Of course Hospices often give respite care, usually for those who otherwise wish to be at home but whose loved ones find they need a break from such caring responsibilities.

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:34 am | Permalink


      Agree that expensive hospital beds should not be used as long term awaiting rooms for eventual death, the problem we have is that Care Home and Hospice beds are not funded by the taxpayer, the other difference is that a typical stay in a Care home can be 2 years or more, whereas a typical stay in a Hospice is 2 weeks or less.

      Our family have had experience of all three of these services, and the interconnect between them often via Social Services is far from seamless, and the management of all three is very different indeed.

      The fourth solution is supposedly care at home, again often via Social Services, and again varies from dire, and appalling, to good.

      Perhaps it is time to rethink the whole idea of who, what, and how, we pay for such care in the future, and who should manage it.

      • Cheshire Girl
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 9:09 pm | Permalink


        I recall that several Governments have talked about a ‘Green Paper’ being brought forward to address social care, but it has always been shelved for one reason or another.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:46 am | Permalink

      Our host needs to cover the care sector in greater detail and more often. Compared to Network rail and its f/x trades, people are more affected by the care home business.

      Your third para contradicts the first one. The fact that Care homes seem to be so “off-grid” in terms of regulation, monitoring, access to PPE, numbers and causes of deaths is of seep concern, which does not constitute hysteria.

      The state of the care sector is one of the huge consequences of a property-dominated economy, where any returns (or losses) from the property portfolio dwarf the returns from the supposed business itself. That, and the lack of skilled independent monitoring (we can all think of incidents in care homes which should never have happened) are an indicator of this sector. As a business sector it needs a gamekeeper like approach like no other.

      • SM
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

        I can think of fatal incidents in NHS hospitals, sometimes recurring over years, which should never have happened. My reference is to the very recent recording of deaths in Care Homes, ie this year.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      It used to be the case that the NHS…allegedly created for the good of ordinary people using THEIR money…provided geriatric care. Every hospital had a geriatric ward. Not only did this provide death beds…it also preserved inheritances!!

      Stand back and view the situation.

      They forced the population to pay for a health care system which promised cradle to grave care.
      They then WILLFULLY overburdened it.
      ( I see that fertility stuff is being restarted as a priority)
      They then SHUT DOWN all alternatives…private care, private insurances.
      They then proceeded to destroy capacity.
      And now they say…OUR NHS…but YOU can’t use it!
      The greatest original scam of course was that 1948 allowed them to tax,tax,tax.
      I bet that the govt now has its beady eye on private Care Homes!

      • glen cullen
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

        I agree with your comments and that geriatic wards should be returned to NHS

    • Ed M
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      And Death is natural (NOT suicide / euthanasia). Notice how this virus seems to, relatively-speaking, leave the young alone whilst getting the older generation to think more about their mortality and prepare for it. Let’s care for our old and vulnerable as best as possible but also not neglect the futures of the young – their education, jobs and so on.
      God bless all those about to die from the virus. But God bless also the young of this country – that they may have blessed and happy years ahead of them. God also bless nurses and doctors and patients and care workers and all those directly connected with the virus including bus drivers, those who work in shops, and politicians trying to resolve this, and many others.

    • Irene
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      SM, you may need to know that it has long been the case that most people waiting for discharge from hospital are NOT waiting to die.

      If a younger person happened to have, say, a broken leg but was otherwise fit and healthy, but if that younger person happened to live alone without family support, that person too would need services arranged to support them on discharge from hospital. That same younger person would not be waiting to die, or expected to die soon. But would still count in your stats as a bed blocker. Same applies to other hospital patients with non-life threatening conditions.

      The term ‘bed blocking’ was created to place the blame on those hospital patients who were assessed as being fit and safe for discharge but for whom the appropriate ongoing care was not available. Mostly because Social Services were not in a position to facilitate that ongoing care, either in their own homes or in residential care settings if needed. There has been a massive shortage of care workers for many years now. One that the government is only now trying to solve, by a recruitment drive. I doubt that it will succeed now.

      On the question of testing: I’m with Spiegelhalter on this one, and I no longer follow the daily briefing stats. It is all beginning to resemble more than a guessing game.

      Care home residents are not all waiting to die either. They may need care and support, but they would be the same people if still able to live independently like you and I. JR is older than many care home residents – and, hopefully, fit and well, although he may creak more than he used to, may need a bit of support more than he used to, but he’s not waiting to die simply because of his age. JR is also older than the estimated (guesstimated?) 45,000 people under the age of 65 and living with a diagnosis of early onset aka ‘working age dementia’ in the UK.

      The care home sector was not included in the original plans of government – it was forgotten, dropped off the radar. Many care home residents don’t leave the care home under normal circumstances, so how did so many come to contract Covid-19 and die from/with/because of CV when they were probably not expected to die so soon.

      Why should 30,000 home test kits sent out by post overnight be counted? Unless and until the stats show the age of the deceased, their circumstances of living, any pre-existing medical conditions from which they might have been expected to die soon, and in the case of care home residents how long they had been in the care home and what were the reasons for moving to care home – the stats become meaningless, contrived to present a favoured option.

      • Irene
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

        Correction … like you and I can

    • Hope
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      Yes, but test them orvquarantine them first! Not send them there against the advice of your experts! Deputy medical Harries stated that healthy family members should not visit other healthy family groups because risk of infection. So why did Buckland let out 4,000 prisoners early or expose the most at risk group to care homes. Govt failed to act on its own advice!

    • matthu
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      You would have thought it would be criminal to attribute a cause of death on a death certificate without reasonable evidence. And yet, this is apparently quite common today.

      Why? I fear where this is leading. The larger the perceived number of deaths, the more readily will sectors of the populace be able to be portrayed as being a biologic threat and controlled by having their personal freedoms curtailed “for the public good”.

      It is not pure coincidence that Canada chooses this moment to ban assault rifles, effective immediately.

    • L Jones
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      The fact that Care Homes are not part of the NHS ‘system’ shouldn’t mean, surely, that deaths are registered any differently, with proper regard as to cause of death? It’s hardly surprising that our own country’s figures seem so high compared with some – if every country is using different criteria, how on earth can figures be effectively compared?
      Perhaps the reason why Germany’s figures are so low is due to the fact that they have been more precise in their method of recording.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 10:54 am | Permalink


      Yes, why any fuss at all, over thousands of avoidable deaths?

      Everyone is waiting to die, so by your twisted thinking, no one whose actions result in death has done any wrong under any circumstances.

      Orwell couldn’t have bettered your post.

      • SM
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

        And just how do you know that these deaths were unavoidable? We are talking about the frail elderly in the main; had there been a major flu outbreak that was not covered by current vaccination, I would not have been surprised had there been a similar decimation of those with co-morbidities – as I believe there was during the winter of 2014/15.

        I’m afraid the twisted thinking is on your side of the fence.

    • Margaret Robinson
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      Those coutries have completely different cultures to UK. They have few care homes because family take care of the old. They had 2 previous experiences of Chinese lies and coverups so on this occasion they mitigated the risk due to Sars Mers and Hong Kong viruses which had hit them really hard but with relatively few cases in UK. NZ does not have the density of population as UK. As major cities in the UK sprawled out to meet overtake towns and villages these are not only maintained in NZ but 50+ miles apart. Sheep farming is their main production with 10000000 acres given to it
      Source ONS since covid started 215 people with no underlying health issues died. 120 of them were medical workers. 9925 people over 80 with existing health issues died

    • Graham Wheatley
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      We should perhaps take a lesson from what happened on the cruise ship “Diamond Princess”.

      The Johns Hopkins University animated graphic in the top 1/3 of this BBC webpage is quite interesting.

      Look at what happens with the “Diamond Princess” Cruise Liner stats !……. I’d noticed this when compiling my own spreadsheet from the W.H.O. data….. for almost 2 weeks (6th-19th Feb) the ship accounted for between 53% & 89% of all of the new (ex-China) worldwide cases !!!! It seems the ship became a breeding ground rather than a quarantine vessel.

      That’s what seems to be happening in some of our Care Homes.

      • Alan Jutson
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 9:38 pm | Permalink


        Anyone who has been unfortunate to have been on a cruise ship when Norovirus strikes, knows that a cruise ship is about the most unsuitable place to try and keep people segregated and a virus at bay !

        One circulating air conditioning system, delivered direct to each cabin with the vent situated directly above the bed does not exactly help.

        Too many people, sharing common spaces, so impossible to not touch surfaces, even by accident on occasion, and impossible for so called social distancing to take place.

        Only possible safe place may be not to use the cabin at all, but to stay outside at all times on an open deck.

    • zorro
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      On average, 10,000 deaths a month happen in care homes, so you will never get the figures down and particularly if most deaths are being associated with COVID 19 without testing. Never-ending justification for not opening up the economy and keeping up the fear factor….


      • Mark
        Posted May 3, 2020 at 12:27 am | Permalink

        In line with your figures, weekly deaths for the first 12 weeks of the year were averaging under 2,500 a week in care homes in England and Wales according to the ONS (a bit higher in the first three weeks). But in week 15, there were 5,003 care home deaths not attributed to the virus, with a further 1,478 virus attributed deaths on top; week 16 shows 4,821 non-virus deaths, and 2,131 virus deaths in care homes. Virus deaths are ones with the virus mentioned as at least a part factor for cause of death on the death certificate. There are a lot of extra deaths in care homes that have nothing to do with the virus.

        I have charted the ONS figures here:

  6. John E
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    When will we be able to go to the dentist normally? Half of the dentistry in this country is, or at least was, done privately. How many will still be in business when this is over? What are other countries doing?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

      Indeed I will not not be rushing to the dentist for a while – unless it is a very painful emergency that it. Certainly not for checkups or cleaning.

  7. Steve
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    I simply have zero faith in any official numbers for deaths now. The number of reports of causes of death being listed as the virus when other causes are far more likely and the inaccuracy or even total lack of tests make official figures little more than propaganda.
    No wonder so many people have no confidence in government.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      Just look at the excess death (over normal) figures they are right and almost certainly nearly all are Covid or Covid accelerated. So nearly £50K to date in total and going up at about 1,000 a day or so.

  8. jerry
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    It is clear, by way of the ever changing way stats are being presented, this crisis (quite correctly triggering the Civil Contingency Act) has become a political opportunity beyond that of a civil health emergency, the PM needs to rain-in this exploitation or suffer the consequences later once more plebs take time to consider the facts. For example three of the five tests the govt are using to control the lockdown are political in nature, there being no link to anything either medicine or nature can do to change the result, for example NHS capacity is and always has been a political decision.

    Whilst I still regard CV19 to be a great health risks I am starting to wonder if the risks to our freedoms are even greater – the key to keeping the R number down will be Social Distancing but the govt chooses to carry on emphasising a totally meaningless mantra of Stay-In.

    Then of course there is the utterly meaningless soft restriction on using the personal motor vehicle, as if doing so alone will increase the R number, this clearly has more to do with reaching/maintaining green eco targets than the spread of CV19 – France let that cat out of the bag the other day, announcing a €50 payment to those who want to have their bicycle repaired rather than use their car.

    We live in dangerous times, not just the danger from CV19, the people and parliament must not be circumvented, I welcome any MP who asks difficult questions – so long as they do not do so simply to grandstand as the SNP did this week.

  9. Fred H
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    On questioning numbers, the BBC last night and this morning reports:-

    Of the 122,347 tests provided in the 24 hours up to Friday morning, the number of people tested was fewer – at just over 70,000 – as has been the case since the testing programme began. This is because some people need to be tested more than once to get a reliable result. The total testing figure includes 27,497 kits which were delivered to people’s homes and also 12,872 tests that were sent out to centres such as hospitals and NHS sites.

    However, these may not have been actually used or sent back to a lab.
    So to save face the Government now invents numbers tested, they cannot state the kits were used or tested. Results please.
    And more importantly the supposed target promise needs to be met EVERY DAY.

    • Fred H
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      why hold it back? Figures widely reported and discussed, initially Care Home deaths not included, then adding back in much later, now opening distributed testing locations they initially refused, and the latest pretending the shipped test kits have been used and tested. Sir John you surely are not complicit in this deception?

      • Fred H
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

        This was held back – Sir John are you having trouble with the diary software. ?

        On questioning numbers, the BBC last night and this morning reports:-

        Of the 122,347 tests provided in the 24 hours up to Friday morning, the number of people tested was fewer – at just over 70,000 – as has been the case since the testing programme began. This is because some people need to be tested more than once to get a reliable result. The total testing figure includes 27,497 kits which were delivered to people’s homes and also 12,872 tests that were sent out to centres such as hospitals and NHS sites.

        However, these may not have been actually used or sent back to a lab.
        So to save face the Government now invents numbers tested, they cannot state the kits were used or tested. Results please.
        And more importantly the supposed target promise needs to be met EVERY DAY.

  10. John E
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    I see reports that a businessman is seeking a judicial review of the lockdown alleging it is illegal, that it is a cure that is worse than the disease, and that ministers are just keeping it going in order to justify their original flawed decisions.

    He will issue proceedings next Thursday if measures are not made more rational and proportionate by then.

    Sound man. Some irony in that he is using the same legal procedures that were so deplored here when followed by Gina Miller in relation to another matter.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      I think we can be fairly sure he will get nowhere with this.

    • glen cullen
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      He’s got my support

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      Exceeded the crowd funding target in a day!

  11. Ed M
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Part of the long-term stability and success of the UK and what makes this country great is the tradition of work ethic – which is based on truth. Other countries may lie but their people and others can see through them. Honesty always pays in the end!

    • Fred H
      Posted May 3, 2020 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      I’m not at all sure our people can judge the difference between truth and lies. Years of posturing and untruths portrayed as virtues has left the electorate gullible. Once they wake up to reality a long wait allows the next raft of politicians to erase memories and campaign afresh…

  12. Alan Jutson
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Agree with much of your comment JR and if we are to compare deaths throughout the World, then deaths per number of population (or per million) should certainly be used, indeed as should population density, which I would have thought would also have a bearing on the spread of a pandemic.

    Other questions also arise such as National health provision, the standard of living conditions, normal age expectancy etc etc.

    The fact is you can go too far with all of these numbers if you are not careful, when most people are really only interested in how their own Country performed, and how it affected their family directly.

    I see we now have the usual media questioning how the figures are made up, seems they will never be satisfied no matter how transparent you make them, hence the reason I have stopped viewing the opinionated news views for the past few weeks, and only listened to the official announcements.
    So congratulations to the Government for reaching the said target, on the the way to now hopefully being able to run a more sophisticated range of tests.

    • Mark
      Posted May 3, 2020 at 12:37 am | Permalink

      There is a very clear link between population density and epidemic spread. I charted the data by Local Authority here:

      Note that both axes are logarithmic, so it’s a power law relationship, with population density giving rise more than pro-rata to the number of cases. You can identify individual data points by mousing over them, and each region has a separate colour/series to help isolate areas of interest.

      Reply Yes very useful.

      • Alan Jutson
        Posted May 3, 2020 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        Reply – Reply

        Thanks Mark
        Given we are one of the most densely populated Countries in Europe per square mile, it is hardly surprising that we have suffered big numbers in infection rates and deaths.

        Likewise our so called lockdown has not been anywhere near as severe and restricted as it has been in other Countries.

        So both need to be taken into account if you are going to compare with others.

  13. George Brooks.
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    1 Country comparisons are of little use as there is no common base of recording, but part of the media ( C4 news ) love it so they can hammer the government.
    2 Dying with or of corvid-19 is tied in with point 5. ”As Victor Meldrew” said Care homes are God’s waiting rooms!! When the body starts to shut down from whatever reason, the lungs start to fill up and quite often the fluid can and is drained off to avoid distress. Therefore to be safe Corvid gets put on the death certificate.
    3 Has to be the target until we get a cure/vaccine
    4 No doubt there is an error factor that can be applied to the various totals dependent on whether the swab was taken by a trained or untrained person.
    5 Their totals will certainly have a margin of error
    6 I thought the purpose of the Nightingale hospitals was to increase the number of ICU beds and have all been equipped as such. This should allow the hospitals to return some of their converted wards back for their original purpose.
    7 We cannot be certain of the R factor until point 3 is well under way and it is vital.
    8 We and I suspect parliament is only being told enough to ensure that the ‘lock down’ is not destroyed and we are freed up under a controlled release.

    A few days ago Liam Fox wrote a piece stating that any country by country comparison should be based on the size of population. A day later at the briefing we got that slide which put Belgium at the top and the US well down. It hasn’t been seen since!!!!!!

  14. Dave Andrews
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    An R value between 0.6 and 0.9? For all the sacrifice that’s been made it should be practically zero. Why shut down the economy (for 6 weeks now) so as to reduce the number infected by just a little bit. At this rate, the virus is going to hit the ground running when the lockdown has to be ended rather than be virtually eliminated.
    If you’re going to have a lockdown to eliminate the virus, then you are going to have to have high quality infection control in the hospitals and care homes. Let that be the focus (as well as infection control advice for the general workplace) rather than a futile wrecking of the economy.

  15. majorfrustration
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Is it me or are the 5pm Covid TV briefings becoming less informative but more sycophantic.

    • glen cullen
      Posted May 3, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      Yes Sycophantic and pointless

      Unless you are truely interested in the number of vehicle movements in the UK that hasn’t changed in 4 weeks

      • zorro
        Posted May 3, 2020 at 6:34 pm | Permalink



  16. Chris B
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    The actual quote stated R was “between 0.6 and 0.9 across the country”. I suspect the estimated value varies depending on location between these 2 extremes. It was not well reported as it gave the impression of an average value for the country with a large degree of error.
    In the absence of formalised sampling the Kings College/Zoe self reporting app will be one of the best sources of real time data to estimate R.

  17. Bryan Harris
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    JR – Can we be assured that those marked on death certificates as a result of CV are correct. There are still reports of people with other problems having been marked down as CV deaths when it fact it may have been present but not the actual killer.
    If we are unable to trust these numbers then we can’t trust anything
    Will the government be inclined to be oppressive because they believe the scare stories?
    Before masks are imposed can anyone say how effective they are in stopping the spread of virus’s… CV is so small that it will either penetrate most masks or it will enter the mouth at the side.
    There is nonsense being talked about forcing over-50’s to stay locked up. This is arbitrary and unjust, not to mention that it probably will not help at all.
    As for vaccination, most people I know would be willing to trust the state of their own immune systems than be forced to take some foul concoction into their bodies that has received very little testing. Nobody trusts alleged experts
    There is also talk about restricting movement of people who don’t have a certificate to say they were vaccinated…. IF it comes to this, then we might as well all give up because it won’t be worth living in this kind of 1984 world.. Far better to go about life as normal without restrictions and take our chances…

  18. Bryan Harris
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    So what measures should Parliament be discussing to ease us out of the lockdown.
    It clearly needs to be phased with numbers still reducing to allow another step to be taken. All with as much social distancing as possible:
    1. All small business back to work;
    2. restaurants open;
    3. Open up travel on trains and buses – all businesses functioning;
    4. permit travel on planes;
    5. allow schools and colleges to function;
    6. sports start up again;
    7. conferencing and theaters available;
    8. When deaths have ceased phase out social distancing.

  19. Peter
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    While it may be possible to improve the consistency and accuracy of statistics within the country, statistics from overseas are outside our control. So notions of comparative league tables should be put to the bottom of the pile. We can establish current deaths within the country compared to historical norms and we should work on that. It’s not an international competition.

    However, as has been pointed out – repeatedly – newcomers fly in on a daily basis with little hindrance and no quarantine. Meanwhile native Britons are imprisoned in their own homes. That should be stopped.

    Even worse, illegal migrants are still arriving, taking advantage of better weather to cross the Channel. We need a policy like Australia where illegals are confined offshore. I suggest a remote Scottish island with very basic food and accommodation. Illegals and also citizens of the U.K. need to see that Britain is no longer a soft touch.

    However, this all wishful thinking. Nothing at all will happen. The government will simply allow this to continue. They are happy to destroy the fabric of the country so long as it does not impact on them or their families.

  20. rose
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Isn’t it interesting how the EU has disappeared now that deaths are being compared worldwide? When it was GDP or aid, the EU appeared prominently.

    • Mark B
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      Good spot


  21. Ex-Tory
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    I see that an estimated 28,000 people in the UK have died from the virus.

    Based on a recent survey, 20% of people in the UK, ie around 10,600,000 in the adult population, are worried about their mental health because of the lockdown.

  22. Christine
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    The ONS statistics give us the total number of deaths per week compared to the average weekly deaths from the previous five years. This is a much more accurate way of calculating deaths from COVID. The only problem is that it has a two week lag as the data is collected and collated.

    I was very pleased to read today that our Government is funding the world’s biggest clinical trial. Oxford university will carry out a 7,000 person study where coronavirus patients are randomly given one of five drugs. In addition, Chelsea and Westminster hospital have announced a 450 person study using the drug favipiravir and the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine. Treating the disease, as we now do with AIDS, whilst a vaccine is developed, is the way to go.

    A further study is being done, by the University of Edinburgh, into the benefits of people wearing masks.

    I’ve being calling for all of the above actions for many weeks. Just need to add the boosting of people’s immune system and I’ll be happy.

  23. BetterTimesAhead
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Overall the Government and the NHS are doing a great job.
    Battling hard against the virus, plus battling the snarky MSM and the Vindictive Hindsight Party (Labour).

    But when will the Government publish Recovery numbers, to “Measure and Manage” the crisis and to boost our morale?

    Virtually ever country does that, except the UK. Why not?

    • Caterpillar
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 11:34 pm | Permalink


      What is the evidence the Govt and NHS are doing a great job? I suspect if this were true the data would be much clearer.

      • BetterTimesAhead
        Posted May 3, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

        Yes. Doing a great job:-

        The Government has the confidence of the majority of the Country.
        So many others share my view.

        – Battling hard against the virus,
        – Battling the snarky MSM and the Vindictive Hindsight Party (Labour).
        – Massively ramping up testing and achieving target of capability for 100,000 tests per day
        – Providing sufficient PPE, despite being in competition with the RofTW.
        – Helping to shield extremely vulnerable people. Providing food parcels.
        – Avoided the NHS being overwhelmed like Italy and NYC
        – Built Nightingale hospitals, which may still be required for further waves.
        – Providing financial assistance across a broad spectrum of the UK economy.
        Plus more

        Evidence enough for the majority of us, but not the “Opposition”.

        Imagine if Corbyn or Swinson were in charge now.

        • anon
          Posted May 3, 2020 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

          Not objectively as goods as Germany or South Korea or the US though?

  24. Everhopeful
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Dear Government,

    With reference to “our” NHS.
    Remember Colin Powell?
    Pottery Barn Rule.
    “You break it, you own it.”
    “When you start out something, make sure you have enough force in place to have a decisive outcome.”
    I know you just love military metaphors! The terminology of conflict!

    Best of luck with all this etc etc.

  25. William Long
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Comparison between countries is a huge subject in itself and the difficulties and uncertainties could usefully be explained much more deeply in the daily briefings. Without such explanation the press will continue to feast on and dramatise the existing crude death curves. I thought we might be getting somewhere when the death figures were refined by showing death per capita, but that was dropped after only a single day. Also age must be relevant given the disease’s worsening severity as age rises, as must desity of population.
    Like you, I deplore the change in mid stream to the death statistics we are shown. The Death in Hospital figures may not have been the whole picture, but they were probably the most accurately recorded we are likely to get. There are as you say, far to many potential inconsistencies once you include deaths in Care Homes and the community at large. I can understand the wish to show the broadest possible picture, but surely it would have been better to show a new slide for this and keep the straight Death in Hospital chart going, so that everyone could see a consistent picture of how that was progressing?

    • Mark
      Posted May 3, 2020 at 12:51 am | Permalink

      I think what really matters is the overall excess mortality. It is clear that some of that is because of lack of treatment of people who would normally go to hospital – non-virus hospital deaths are sharply below what they were at the start of the year, while in other settings they have risen by more than the fall in hospitals at a time of year when you expect them to fall slightly. We are probably putting too much emphasis on the virus, and not enough on regular care. That’s before we start adding in such things as the forecast that failure to scan and treat cancer cases may lead to an additional 18,000 deaths in coming months, or the deaths and illnesses that will rise as we go through the follow on economic depression.

  26. Sharon Jagger
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    “Will the NHS move to identifying specialist Covid hospitals and units, to free more District General Hospitals to do everything else?”

    In a different life …. I think they were called Isolation Hospitals . The one near me is now a housing estate!

    Everything always go full circle ….

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      In Phimai in Thailand there is a 10th century stone temple which has the foundations of a hospital one mile from it next to the river where the sick could be isolated well away from the population without coming into the temple complex.

      ‘Twas ever thus.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

        This time the healthy are isolated. A ‘novel’ departure!

  27. John Probert
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Protecting the NHS is not saving enough lives

    Patients are receiving medical intervention to late

    They are already to weak to benefit from the intervention and are not surviving

    We need to save more lives

    Early medical intervention is critical

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      I tend to agree. About 24,000 have died without even getting to hospital many without any palliative care or even getting to see a GP.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      Like most I don’t understand the ‘Protecting the NHS’ bit. Its a meaningless catch phrase.

      Their are less than 20,000 corvid patience in UK Hospitals, then you get there are 2,500,000 people on the NHS related payroll(excluding care homes) that’s 125 staff per Corvid patient. Of course only a small percentage of the staff go near or will ever see a corvid patient.

      So what ever was intended by the message, other than stroking the happy clappers is lost. Don’t get me wrong, those very few of this massive empire that are actually on the frontline deserve all the praise and help offered.

      They are let down by the greater majority of NHS Staff that have time to make dance videos and plaster them over the internet. Show that ‘distancing’ isn’t for them, but everyone else. Make them selves available to the media for anti government tirades The hard working individuals at the front end that suffer most are kicked in the teeth by there own colleagues.

      • Graham Wheatley
        Posted May 3, 2020 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        To my ears it’s turned into a mantra. Perhaps even a propaganda slogan, along the lines of “Unity through Faith – Strength through Unity” (….for anybody familiar with the plot-line of the 2005 film “V for Vendetta”).

        • zorro
          Posted May 3, 2020 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

          That’s the only mask I will be wearing….’ My ideas are bulletproof’.


    • Ian Wragg
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      Ll. should worry more about your savings if you have any in Italy. It looks like the EU is going to take a 10% haircut of all savings to pay for the buying of junk bonds.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      With what shall we intervene dear John, with what?

    • John E
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

      Protecting the NHS by leaving people to die in care homes.
      Can’t help thinking that’s missed the point somewhere.

      • Dystopian nightmare
        Posted May 4, 2020 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        Protecting the NHS by leaving people to die in care homes.
        Can’t help thinking that’s missed the point somewhere.

        The elite are having a cull
        This is 1984 so everything is an opposite.

  28. glen cullen
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Quite right Sir John some numbers need to be examined

    And some have to be published

    Daily unemployment, business closure, universal credit claimate figures

    MSM are busy getting a nice pictures of our NHS rather than reporting upon our economy

    • Anonymous
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      I am tired of seeing NHS staff larking around on Tic Tok etc. Especially when I hear from people I know who work in it that they’ve never been quieter.

      There are people stuck at home sick with worry about their businesses and keeping their homes, they are making terrible sacrifices with a life shortening impact in order to “Save the NHS”.

      • Mark B
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

        This is why I will never clap. All those fools virtue signalling whist the economy goes down the pan.

        • glen cullen
          Posted May 3, 2020 at 8:59 am | Permalink

          virtue signalling & jester politics of the highest order….I also never clap to media induced short term fad (have you noticed how fast TV ads have joined the NHS bandwagon)

  29. matthu
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Put simply, corona-virus models, like failed climate models before them, are being lined up to guide public policy.

    We only ever hear one side of the science, the side that appears to support the public policy that is being accelerated, with opposing views often being suppressed by mainstream media and social networking.

    Already we are seeing numbers being “massaged” to justify the huge costs tat are being incurred. But far bigger than the economic costs will be the loss of freedoms that we once took for granted.

    Freedom to travel, freedom to congregate together, freedom of speech.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

      We lost freedom of speech a long time ago.

      • Fred H
        Posted May 3, 2020 at 11:05 am | Permalink

        except in THE HOUSE , and even that got eliminated if the Speaker didn’t like it.

  30. Roy Grainger
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    On 7. they announced they were going to start random testing of a sample of the population, it was mentioned at one of the daily briefings.

  31. Cavewell Man
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    The BBC keeps mixing up death rates and the absolute numbers and they never refer to the true contribution of Covid to these deaths and they also never really give us the comparative picture in relation to all deaths we can normally expect. The Agenda of the MSM seems only to be to pin maximum blame on a Consevative government.

  32. Ian @Barkham
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Sir John

    It is obvious to all now that the figures are so vague in every sector, deaths, testing, PPE and so on that the attempts to offer anything just show how poorly managed the UK is. This is magnified by the chunkiness of NHS management.

    Yes we have the situation that no one, no country or this planet has been in this situation on this scale before. What it does highlight is how poorly managed the UK is. It is a top down bureaucratic monolith, that is more a club for looking after an the wealth and well being of it members than it is for the management of a sophisticated country to the benefit of all.

    This is why the MsM has such a field day in creating mischief. The MsM is a sales organization first and foremost, the sell their ego’s to create traffic to attract advertising. They are not news outlets to report truth so as to hold those in power to account, that version is consigned to history. The MsM is solely their to sell advertising space. Fear sells better than praise.

    The management style of this Government opened the door to every horror story imaginable. The Health Minister and his team of civil servants suggest they are the only ones capable of supplying 58,000 facilities with their daily needs. Allowing 58,000 highly paid procurement managers sit on their hands and say not me Gov.

    Every day it is if we are presented with a John Cleese management video as a real world event. The point missed is those videos are training videos on ‘how NOT to manage’

    • Mark B
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      What it does highlight is how poorly managed the UK is.

      You can blame BREXIT for that. Finally it is beginning to work. Those at the top can no longer blame anyone else, except the ‘science’ that is. But the people will not buy that. They will, quite rightly, blame the government for them losing their jobs and their homes. The Tories may have saved the NHS, but no one is going to save the Tories.

      • matthu
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

        I think you can blame years of membership of the EU.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted May 3, 2020 at 6:51 am | Permalink

          Please explain how and why.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

        Nothing can save the NHS, it’s terminal. Brexit has not yet happened but will still be our saving grace – if we are saved at all!

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted May 3, 2020 at 6:52 am | Permalink

          Saved? From what?

          Freedom, prosperity, health, and international respect, it would appear.

          • Lynn Atkinson
            Posted May 3, 2020 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

            DESTITUTION! Something you smart Alecs have never considered a possibility because we brought you up in such safety!

  33. gyges01
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    I would add a month by like month comparison of current and historical data corrected for population. That is, what were total deaths in Jan 2020 vs Jan 2019 etc and so on for Feb, Mar, Apr, May etc…

    I would ask for a review of cause of death recording to explain any discrepancies.

    I would be interested in comparing figures between care homes and consider prosecutions for manslaughter depending upon the results.

  34. Aurelio Zen
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    A vague question: what is the proportion, so far this year, of the (English) population dying (in English hospitals) of covid-19, but without normal morbid pre-conditions? Or sheer old age? Is there relevant, trust-worthy data?

    Leaving aside statistics: covid-19 death are sometimes attributed to catastrophic “storms” of the immune system. Yet, one hears that many people experience this disease in a barely noticeable form. (Anecdotally: statistics seem to be unavailable.) What accounts for this? Are there several forms/mutations of the disease at play? Are virologists studying this?

    In mid-plague, it may be that “we are where we are”, with imperfect data and imperfect science, and inevitably have to make fallible decisions.

  35. Original Chris
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    A table from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recent report show a break down of US deaths from first week in February 2020.

    Very significant is that the death total per week since the week ending 1 February is less than expected, and in the week ending 11 April 50% of what was expected.

    (This “expectation” is calculated as follows “Percent of expected deaths is the number of deaths for all causes for this week in 2020 compared to the average number across the same week in 2017–2019):
    Provisional Death Counts of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Pneumonia, or Influenza by week, United States. Week ending 2/1/2020 to 4/11/2020.*
    Data as of 4/16/2020

    There are also many more important findings that must be taken into account in our formulating of disease control policy and the medication that would be effective.

    • ed2
      Posted May 4, 2020 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      The Centre For Evidence Based Medicine says we are seeing a late seasonal flu manifestation in the Northern Hemisphere on the back of a mild flu season so far. No pandemic.

  36. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    I have lost interest in the numbers they are meaningless. What I want to know is who is catching it? We are locked down so who are the 5,000 a day catching it? If they are people who are still traveling to work and interacting with people that has consequences for the lifting of the lockdown. Especially within retail. If the transmission are in hospital and care homes then that means social distancing in retail is working.

    If it is being transmitted within households that has less consequence as social distancing measures may work. Without knowing how people still catch this virus the government can not possibly plan for lifting restrictions. And it needs to plan soon.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

      Exactly. Why not simply take a specimen sample of these 5000 and ask

      -work environment
      -travel to work environment
      -home environment
      -other possible ways of infection
      – even , WHO do they think they caught it from?

      It’s far from rocket science.
      Perhaps the answers are politically inconvenient, or perhaps the work just isn t being done. Unbelievable.

      Or we could just carry on guessing.

  37. DavidJ
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Seems that incompetence is the order of the day when it comes to analysing statistics. Where do they get these people from?

  38. Robert Bywater
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    “It is a bad idea to change the way you calculate numbers over time for a series when you are using the curve of that series over time to determine policy.” Spot on, sir John. It is a good idea to *have* and to publish this data but it is a bad idea to present just the aggregate data at this late stage in the trajectory, it makes it impossible to identify any trends. Best keep the different records separate and also record the aggregate, separately. That way you will be able to see the trends in separate scenarios (in itself useful to know). If we do it that way I’m sure the data will be more robust and accurate than that of other countries, which we actually don’t know much about. Least of all that of China.

  39. Sea Warrior
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Good points. We’ve learned a number of lessons about the Care Home sector in pandemics.
    (1) They should be linked into the NHS CIS systems, so that reporting is fast and accurate. (This needn’t cost anything. An app would suffice.)
    (2) The government should step up to the plate and provide, gratis, PPE to the sector. Were the sector’s requirements factored into NHS contingency planning? I suspect not.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

      NHS supplies the infected patients, not the protective equipment.

  40. Lynn Atkinson
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Source, The Times: 30th April 2020
    South Africa has one of the world’s most severe coronavirus lockdowns and it is costing its ailing economy £570 million a day. Yet with fewer than 103 dead and just 395 infected patients in hospital, the country’s population is beginning to question if that has been a price worth paying.

    • SM
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      1. As of 2 May in Sth Africa, 123 deaths attributable to covid19, with 114 hospital cases in the Western Cape Province alone.

      2. S Africa’s economy was recently rated as junk-status, so if you add that to the exceptionally widespread corruption in all state-owned or run organisations, + plus all the unemployed, you will understand why so many of us are indeed asking if the lock-down is a price worth paying.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      Like NZ, all that UV due to ozone depletion is starting to pay dividends.

    • Richard
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

      c.95% of South African & Indian citizens have no medical cover.
      And vitamin D, UV, heat & humidity meant it never got going in either country.
      So clearly they are not trying “to protect their Health Service”.
      Martial law was rolled out globally, with different cover stories in different countries.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted May 3, 2020 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

        Exactly! One World Government testing for compliance?

    • anon
      Posted May 3, 2020 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      SA has few older co-horts.
      SA has Sunshine & other vaccination programs, which may give some resistance, not previously needed until maybe now in the West.
      It is also notably not a open to all international transit hub with an 8m mega city on its doorstep. With direct flights from China and other secondary hotspots being accepted with no effective controls.

  41. Iain Moore
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Agreed, the Government does seem to like shooting its self in the foot.

  42. forthurst
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    R0 is crucial to a discussion on future policy. How will it change if lockdown is lifted? Where did Dr Vallance get his 0.6 to 0.9 or Dr Whitty his 0.5 to 1.0 from? Which is the more accurate from the the available data? How did either have the time to produce their figures when they are both occupied full time as propagandists for the Tory government.

    How can R0 possibly be known as JR suggests without knowing what is happening to the underlying rate of infection in the population? People who are vulnerable to COVID-19 have been aware of this for weeks; is it suggested that they or their families or others would not have modified their behaviour in order to avoid adding to the statistics?

    What is clear is that COVID-19 spreads rapidly amongst those who live in intimate contact, so what is more significant than the R0 for the whole population, is the value for spread from in-groups to out-groups or between a family member to someone else. It is also possible to deduce that areas of large family size will have a higher value for R0.

    The crucial question then is how is transmission occurring between two individuals who are not related and what is this value for R0 in any particular context? Because there has been no attempt to track and trace, the government has no information on how to prevent the spread of the epidemic should the lockdown be lifted. How safe is public transport? Should people avoid going out without a facemask? Do all shops present a similar risk? Are workplaces spreading the virus? How actually is the virus being spread?

    The government continually claims to be guided by ‘the science’ when in fact what is crucial to all genuine scientific discussion is reliable data and that is signally lacking here.

    • Mark
      Posted May 3, 2020 at 1:57 am | Permalink

      You are right that there needs to be a much greater understanding of the risks. There are some who are trying to model them (e.g. the RAMP project), but it is unclear how good the data are that they are relying on for their modelling.

      A part of the problem is that while detailed modelling and data investigation can help with some policies such as whether to allow sports fixtures, or religious congregations above a minimal size, it gets harder to provide a workable policy when there are so many different circumstances to cater for. It’s clear that virus spread is related to how densely we live and work. It’s clear the risks are age and health related for those who are infected.

      How dangerous a local level of R implied by releasing some of the lockdown measures is will depend on what proportion of the local population may be immune, in addition to the other factors. Keeping R below 1 is a simple way to try to ensure that outbreaks die out where they occur, and the lower, the more rapidly they will die out. But if 20% of the local population have immunity, then according to models you won’t get an epidemic if your local social distancing keeps R below 1.25 – 20% is herd immunity for an R of 1.25, and a third of the population for an R of 1.5. The much cited 60% figure is for an R of 2.5 (the formula for the proportion for herd immunity is 1-1/R).

      Track and trace policies depend on rapid isolation of contacts of a confirmed case if they are to be effective. If there is delay, then contacts who may be infected get the chance to pass the infection on, and the numbers you have to trace soon snowball. But it isn’t essential to track all contacts so long as you manage to get 60%+ quickly, especially if that’s most of the more likely to have picked up the infection from the confirmed case. That is enough to lower the R value for the contacts who escape initial identification, who will likely be picked up by the next round of infection and tracing.

      The amount of tracking required is a big variable. Those who work with the same people and commute by car probably need no intrusive tracking at all – their contacts are largely defined by their workplace and home. Someone commuting by train and tube with a change of tube lines is an altogether different problem (part cure – cut tube routes in central London, and run buses to particular workplaces so that tracing is easier). I am unconvinced that enough people will be persuaded to join and use a government run tracking programme dependent on mobile phone tracking, or that a government bureaucracy will manage to be effective in tracing contacts and ensuring they isolate themselves. It seems to me to be simpler to rely on workplaces and homes to provide the necessary contact lists, providing a ready made workforce who can inform other workers and their families of the need for isolation and testing to release themselves from quarantine.

      Those with public facing jobs are different again. What do we learn about the incidence of cases among e.g. supermarket workers? Can you visit a dentist if you test negative for infection or positive for antibodies, and what testing will the dentist and assistants need?

      I think there are too many questions for government to prescribe the solutions, and no need for them to proscribe activities where those who are involved work out how to solve the problems. It’s much better if people come up with their own ways of handling things that are acceptable to them. By all means, offer them some generic advice to help them do so. But don’t wait while the Civil Service redrafts everything and wants the minister to sign off on it prior to publication.

      • a-tracy
        Posted May 3, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

        Mark, you say “it is clear that the virus spread is related to how densely we live and work”.

        How is it clear? The public don’t know how the virus spread other than early days when people got off infected cruise boats, returned from half term holidays and the Chinese people reported coming in with the virus in York? We were told if these people self-isolated for 14 days they were safe to go out and sick people could go back out after 7 days so why is it still spreading with no movement and social distancing for 42 days and more for some people? It can’t be too difficult now to tell us the history/movement/contacts of the last 6 weeks of the new hospital patients? Surely there should be none now?

        We know Nadine Dorries was one of the earliest reported MPs with the virus which rampaged around the HoC but where did she get infected?

  43. zorro
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, JR, you are clearly highlighting the points we have been banging on about over the weeks which have been studiously ignored by the emotive media.

    1, The government graphs are highly misleading and do not factor in population size or disease spread. What is the agenda behind it apart from artificially prolonging the police state which ‘flattening the curve’ and ‘social distancing’ do of themselves by quarantining the healthy and those unlikely to be mildly infected by COVID 19 whilst failing to shield the smaller, elderly at-risk population?

    2. You always know that fakery and obfuscation is afoot when they change the numbers and the basis of calculations… The only reason they are adding in care homes now is to keep the numbers high and justify their stupidity. As I have said before, 10,000 per month die in care homes. How many will be marked as COVID 19 on a daily basis?

    3. This should have been one of their first actions – sample population to estimate infection rate and spread tested over a number of weeks in a number of places in the UK.

    4. Another sign of something not being right….

    5. They need to show the accuracy of records, but then we know that the coronavirus Bill weakened checks on death certificates….

    6. What a waste with these Nightingale wards – just for pretty pictures and no intention of using? Gross mismanagement of resources by focusing all on COVID 19 and not providing safe facilities for other necessary operations.

    7. Another worrying sign….when Whitty mentioned it first at the conference a couple of days ago. He said that it could be between 0.5 and 1, and might be around 0.7 but he couldn’t be sure!?! I thought that he was having a laugh to produce this statement at that time. If they are so unsure, of what possible use is the R figure on its own.?

    8. Absolutely agree


    • ed2
      Posted May 4, 2020 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      As I have said before, 10,000 per month die in care homes. How many will be marked as COVID 19 on a daily basis?

      Covid 19 is everything, all over the world they are doing the same thing. You die of anything you died of Covid-19, we are screwed.

  44. Iain Gill
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    more importantly why is the NHS still getting all the walking sick people in many towns to go to one room phlebotomy clinics, queue, and cross infect each other?

    it is sheer madness to organise taking bloods like this, it is cross infection nightmare

    done as a nonsense idea to try and save money it never was a good idea, as it forces many people to take yet another day off work when the bloods could have been taken in the original appointment like the rest of the planet would

    all this clap for the NHS nonsense is really starting to bug me when there is obvious nonsense like this going on

    • a-tracy
      Posted May 3, 2020 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      These over large queuing phlebotomy clinics do need closing down I agree, go join the long queue at 8am with all the other fasting patients, get your ticket pay your £3 parking fee and sit around starving for a couple of hours realising you should have got there at 7!

  45. Caterpillar
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Yes … and more.

  46. M Brandreth- Jones
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    I received a text for my local GP practice asking me to phone a number now there are more available tests and not really for my benefit ,but I thought it would be a useful case to add to the numbers , however as usual in research I was told that I did not meet the criteria.

    On March 19th I developed symptoms which were highly suggestive of Covid-19 and self Isolated for 2 weeks as the symptoms seemed prolonged. I am over 65 years and work in the front line of general practice. I feel quite well now but am still coughing , regularly gargling with an antiseptic and wonder if the symptoms are continuing . I was told that I am not in the group being tested.Surely the way I present is crucial to accurate research.
    I am still at home as face to face consultations and routine work such as female examinations , cytological analysis and vaccinations are on hold .

  47. rose
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Another thing they might get right is whether the Wuhan virus really does discriminate against people of African and Asian descent. It is no good just looking at London. Let them study Bristol where there are plenty of different nations but no underground.

    • a-tracy
      Posted May 3, 2020 at 7:38 am | Permalink

      Or Stoke on Trent Rose, one of the poorest regions, lots of diversity, and a low contagion rate? Or Blackpool another very poor region? It’s not simply poverty. The government knows who has died, what occupations they had, whether they or their family had taken holidays to the first infected regions in February

  48. ukretired123
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing!
    Many folks criticise the govt but that is easy led by the BBC and the MSM.

    NZ is very lucky to be at the end of the world and able to lock down 5 weeks ago.
    NYC and London are major airline hubs which found practicalities impossible to do.
    This complication has caused Britain and the USA to fall behind other countries and not helped by the PM and close sides actually suffering from the virus directly.
    We live in an imperfect world and few countries have been able to get it right.
    It has not helped that Britain’s Culture where we tend not to deal with a problem until it actually arrives in our doorstep as happened in 1940.

    Nevertheless mistakes have definitely been made and ruthlessly sorely tested everyone, some more than others. Millions have been caught out and will be in future. But whatever happens it is folly to keep beating ourselves up (that is certainly not the British way) but rather stay calm and try to be positive taking one day at a time however difficult.
    Having worked in several countries in Africa and the Caribbean where life and death are daily matters of reality I find we, in more materially advanced countries have become obsessed with what we haven’t got compared with what we are blessed with.
    By comparison humble folks in those countries regarded many of us like millionaires to what they have, yet many of us don’t see it like that unfortunately……

  49. DennisA
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    “Full lockdown policies in Western Europe countries have no evident impacts on the COVID-19 epidemic.

    Comparing the trajectory of the epidemic before and after the lockdown, we find no evidence of any discontinuity in the growth rate, doubling time, and reproduction number trends.”
    Thomas Meunier, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Falmouth, Massachusetts and
    Ensenada Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education, Ensenada, BC
    April 24, 2020

    • Caterpillar
      Posted May 3, 2020 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      Interesting paper.

      I believe SAGE and the U.K. Govt should be responding to such a paper when taken in combination with the English in hospital (with Covid 19) death peak being 8th April (7th if smoothed).

      (I think this type of work further highlights the importance of Sir John’s 7th and 8th points.)

  50. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    I very much agree with your point 2, particularly as the statistics for care home deaths are so dodgy.

    The Government appears to think that the electorate is too stupid to assess two time trends, one for cases and deaths in hospitals, the other for cases in deaths in care homes.

    I think that the Government has changed its presentational case in order to disguise the fact that the UK epidemic (at least in hospitals) is past its peak.

    The only reason that the NHS appears to be coping is that treatments for diseases other than Coronavirus are about 75% down on normal.

  51. Scenic
    Posted May 3, 2020 at 2:52 am | Permalink

    Then the winter viruses start perhaps and hopefully later than October and rip through us like butter, young people too, because of all the anti-biotics and poor food and Government instilled low morale knocking our immune systems down by 10% and the secondary government of supermarket chains rationing us,conning us with double priced food.
    Government has made a mess of it all.

  52. Tabulazero
    Posted May 3, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Just for the avoidance of doubt: Belgium has the highest COVID-19 death per capita in part because it has one of the widest definition of what is a COVID death.

    Unlike the UK, Belgium reports all the deaths in care homes (which the UK did not until April 29th) as a COVID death if only a single-patient tested positive. Belgium test also far more than the UK…. and therefore catches more COVID cases.

    If you are interested, death in care homes sadly account for half the COVID deaths in Belgium. This should give you an idea of what should be the true death toll of COVID in the run-up to the 29th of April where numbers become more comparable.

    • Mark
      Posted May 3, 2020 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      So Belgium is over-reporting virus deaths. Useful to know. Now we probably are also over-reporting them in the ONS data, which count any mention of Covid (whether tested for or not) on a death certificate, regardless of other causes.

      • Tabulazero
        Posted May 3, 2020 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

        I would rather say that the UK and the US were until recently for the UK under-reporting deaths linked to COVID

      • Stred
        Posted May 4, 2020 at 5:43 am | Permalink

        Under half of the excess deaths in care homes, above the seasonal average, are being reported as due to Covid. What other explanation could there be for this sudden increase which is certified in the other cases? No testing or GP visits are available so what is being certified as the cause of death?

        • Tabulazero
          Posted May 4, 2020 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

          Lack of treatment due to COVID taking priority?

          • Stred
            Posted May 5, 2020 at 10:31 am | Permalink

            The main causes of death are 1.cancer 2.dementia 3. heart. Dementia is twice as common in women. Many residents are women with dementia and cancer. The ones with cancer are usually the soonest to die. When Covid affects very old and sick patients they are dying quickly. In the I T U wards surgeons are finding that the virus is affecting the vascular and nervous system and not only the lungs. This would account for the high and sudden excess death rate, without necessarily pneumonia. I think Covid is being under reported.

  53. a-tracy
    Posted May 3, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    No sorry, I’m calling bull shit on Grant Shapps, you talk of a million Brits around the world that had to come back, you’ve imprisoned millions for over FORTY days, yet your science advice didn’t tell incomes to wear masks and isolate for jut 14 days or test for the virus. If they’re still out of the Country now over 40 days later TOUGH.

    • ed2
      Posted May 4, 2020 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      The Centre For Evidence Based Medicine confirms there is NO pandemic.

  54. Caterpillar
    Posted May 3, 2020 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Sir John,

    Just briefly on data that is more easily accessible to those wondering about England specifically (All links have been mentioned on your site before, but I’ll put in one place).

    Deaths by actual date in English hospitals is here

    (On some days’ releases the links on some analysis sheets e.g. by gender or pre-existing condition don’t work. For public release the NHS Outcomes Analysis Team should just paste the numeric value not formulae to avoid such mistakes.)

    Obviously the ONS all deaths registered in England and Wales

    (the major problem with this is obviously the delay)

    And the comparison between contributing European countries for all deaths is here

    (The problems with the European mortality monitoring data are (i) relies on submission from the member countries so the yellow highlighted area in graphs is shown as corrected but we are not told whether it is actually right, (ii) the z-score plot is interesting for control compared to a country’s existing volatility in mortality, but similar times series of deaths per million would give a better raw comparison between countries; the project could usefully report this).

  55. Stred
    Posted May 3, 2020 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    It is doubtful whether the UK reports all deaths above the weekly average as due to Covoid. The head of the statistics office on Marr 3.5 put the extra deaths at around 3,000. However, the graphs showing all deaths above average show 1,000 , 1,500 and 2,500 for the weeks to 17.4 as not due to Covid, with only 20% attributed to Covid rising to 40%.
    That alone is 5,000 deaths with no explanation for this sudden increase. There have been 3 more weeks since that report.

  56. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted May 3, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    If you Google “UK Coronavirus Wikipedia”, you get to a useful site. Then go to section 10 Statistics.

    There can be found two charts giving the information that Sir John wants, cases and deaths per 100,000 population, leading up to the end of April. The pecking orders (worst cases first) are:
    Cases Deaths
    Spain Spain
    Italy Italy
    USA UK
    UK France
    Sweden Sweden
    France USA
    Germany Canada
    Canada Germany

    There are also graphs for day by day cases and deaths in the UK. The Department of Health moved to the new system of including care home statistics on 29th April. However, the Wikipedia graph for UK deaths continues to be based on hospital deaths. Data for the final week of April was:
    25/04 413 (weekend)
    26/04 360 (weekend)
    27/04 586
    28/04 578
    29/04 505
    30/04 438

    So, hospital deaths are continuing to trend downwards.

  57. Paul McGreevy
    Posted May 3, 2020 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    It’s blindingly obvious the virus is out in the community and lockdowns are not going to make it go away. After lockdown it will work it’s way through the community until enough people are immune to close down its pathways. The government has flattened the curve to enable gearing up to fight it, now its time to go back to work. Economic shutdown is not sustainable and is destroying lives. Why is this not obvious?

  58. Thomas E
    Posted May 3, 2020 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    I’d add:

    What’s the turnaround time for the tests?

    Peak infectiousness for COVID-19 is from a couple of days before symptoms to 3 days after they appear. I’ve heard about results taking four days to come back…

    Hint: postal test are nearly useless for preventing infection IMHO.

  59. The End
    Posted May 4, 2020 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Gove and Hancock are trying to sabotage politics so not one MP ever picks up his or her pension because the very concept of a political class (will be no more). It will be abolished to the back of our minds forever and you lot will be made to pick fruit for us and work the fields, in the new dark age you wilfully brought about.

  60. The dark age is here
    Posted May 4, 2020 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Science has been turned into medieval superstition.

  61. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted May 5, 2020 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    There has been a further fall in the number of Coronavirus deaths this weekend (3&4/05).

    Hopefully, the number of new cases per day is also beginning to trend downwards.

    How much does the number of new cases per day have to decline before track and tracing contacts of new sufferers becomes practical. The app being trialled in the Isle of Wight is interesting. There might be three drawbacks:
    – Old codgers like me don’t have a smart ‘phone. My 20 year old Nokia is fine.
    – The system is automated and may generate some false positives.
    – Can the State be trusted to protect the data from hackers?

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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