Getting the numbers right

I am glad to read today that the government is dropping the Chinese death figures from CV 19 from it deaths graph, as they cannot be sure about the basis on which they are compiled.

They might like to adjust the other country death figures to numbers per million of population to make them a bit more meaningful. There will still be differences in basis for regarding a death as a CV 19 death, and differences from density of population and other factors not related to disease management and healthcare.

I also read that London paramedic advice is being altered to ensure a higher proportion of Covid 19 cases are taken to hospital. If this is true, then the London figures for hospital admissions becomes a useless guide  as recent figures will clearly be relatively higher than older figures.

The government needs consistent and accurate figures as a basis for decision making. Hospital admissions was the best series they showed, as I assume they have in place the right procedures for counting patients actually in hospital. They also said they tested the patients to see if they had CV 19.  No-one has any idea how many people in the community have or have had CV 19.

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  1. Fred H
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Perhaps the Government has finally woken up to the view that we should drop everything Chinese. A regime that cannot be trusted to report honestly, in common with UK governments.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      Sadly true.

  2. Martin in Cardiff
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    I should think that countries around the world will be dropping the UK death figures from their charts, for exactly the same reason, but probably more so.

    This government’s lack of transparency is becoming rather conspicuous.

    • Edward2
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      What about countries that add only ” dead from” rather than also adding “dead with”
      China is obviously lying.
      The figures are unbelievable.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

        They could be, but you have no proof that they are.

        So how do you explain all those the videos posted by westerners there, of life returning to something like normality, while we are still in lockdown?

        They claim to have done no more than Australia and New Zealand anyway.

        Is that so fanciful?

        • Edward2
          Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

          Where is your proof they dont?
          New Zealand has a huge area of land and a small population.
          165th lowest density in the world.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted April 27, 2020 at 6:34 am | Permalink

            Aw, it’s all so terribly unfair, isn’t it, Ed?

            Those Germans with their organisational efficiency, the Danes with their socially-conscious population, the Greeks with their history etc.?

            How about Venezuela then, with just a few dozen deaths so far?

          • Edward2
            Posted April 27, 2020 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

            I’m happy they are doing well.
            But there are more reasons they are doing well than you think.
            Just blaming the Conservatives is poor and simplistic point scoring.

            North Korea has no cases.
            I presume you believe everything they tell you.

          • Narrow Shoulders
            Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:10 pm | Permalink


            Milan, Madrid Paris New York and London Outside of Wuhan these are the most affected places.

            All international hubs. The only one missing really is Berlin. Kudos to the Germans for shutting their borders in good ti.e.

        • Fred H
          Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

          Everything looks normal in N.Korea.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

            It’s a miracle.
            Martin has complete faith in their figures.

      • APL
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 6:50 am | Permalink

        Edward2: “China is obviously lying. The figures are unbelievable.”

        Who thinks a totalitarian regime like the Chinese wouldn’t take the opportunity to ‘die of Covid-19’ some of its political prisoners and dissidents?

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        If obesity is as large a contributing factor in mortality from this virus then China, India and other less wealthy countries may well experience fewer deaths.

  3. a-tracy
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    They should never have compared the whole of the USA with individual European countries on a like for like basis, you must add up the figures from the current EU 27 if you want to compare like for like. Or give us the individual American States breakdown and then people might understand better why some States don’t need to be on a total lockdown for as long as somewhere like New York or Washington State.

    • hefner
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      The figures for the individual US states are available on the John Hopkins CSSE website. Anyway a more representative figure should be number of deaths per million inhabitants, and anybody wanting to make comparisons should account for the different population densities in those various areas as pointed out by Duyfken below).

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:21 am | Permalink

        Thanks for the John Hopkins info hefner.

        I don’t think deaths per million are comparable, the deaths in Scotland and Wales for example are worse than most regions in England and I think that due the nature of this spread and ease of catching it a regional breakdown would be more useful to be able to release some regions before others with still a large infection rate in their area. By now admissions into hospital should be significantly reduced and those that are going in should be tested, tracked and traced efficiently to find out the source, job type, relations to medical workers etc.

    • Mark
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      As soon as you start looking at maps of where cases and deaths are occurring, it becomes evident that there are massive divergences within countries. Major cities tend to have high concentrations of cases. Occasionally there may be an important cluster somewhere else. If we look at the UK, Cardiff and Newport have the highest rates, followed by some populous London boroughs. These are an order of magnitude greater relative to population than for islands like the Isle of Wight, Anglesey, the Shetlands etc. There is the odd exception like Cumbria, where rates have also been high.

      In Germany the East is almost untouched (except for Berlin), with most cases being in Bavaria and the Ruhr. That may be in part an artefact of where testing is more prevalent.

  4. Cheshire Girl
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    I sometimes wonder if it would be better if they reported where the cases are. we just seem to get the total Are the cases in London going down (how many?) also for other parts of the country .

    I may be wrong, but I think it would be reassuring-or not- for us to know if our area was making progress in reducing the number of cases and deaths? Living nearer London now, I find it very worrying to know this area is a hotspot for this virus.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      Cheshire Girl,

      You can see the deaths by location, trust etc by actual date for England here

      Obviously there is a delay in the last few days.

    • hefner
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

      CG, Look for ‘Coronavirus UK: how many confirmed cases are there in my area?’ Sean Clarke 25/04/2020 12:20.
      One will have to type the name of the area to get a direct info, otherwise one has to find it scrolling a loooong list.
      For example Wokingham 339, Reading 426, Bracknell Forest 191.

      This list appears to be updated every 2-3 days.

    • Mark
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      A mouseable, zoomable map of England here based on yesterday’s PHE dashboard:

  5. SM
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Many of us are repeatedly asking for an explanation of the suppression and consequent apparent inaction regarding the findings of Operation Cygnus. Would it expose not only some possibly incompetent Ministers but also some possibly very incompetent Civil Servants?

    Continued silence on the subject is not helpful, administratively or politically.

  6. Sakara Gold
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    The government can count the numbers of Chinese plague virus patients admitted to hospital? Astounding! You coud have fooled me!

  7. Duyfken
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Today the Covid-19 numbers in Australia are 6,710 cases and 83 deaths. In several other countries there are similar relatively low numbers and this begs the question why the reported figures in UK should be so massively large.

    It cannot just be a difference in how the figures are recorded, nor down to external factors such as population density. The Oz deaths’ total is hardly more than those (74) suffered in just two hospitals in my County (Shropshire). Is there anything to be learned from this?

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Yes, there is something to be learned. Australia is a massive place with a third of our population. Here where I live, in Dorset, it is sparsely populated. 287 cases in Dorset with 23 deaths. Why we are locked down I do not understand.

      Rather worrying that in England it appears that 1 in 10 cases results in death. Whilst doing as I have been told, I have been a bit blasé about it all – assuming that if I get it, I’ll shrug it off. But, 1 in 10! Maybe not.

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      Duyfken it might be because they were sensible like NZ and shut the country down quickly. The UK being an island could have done this too. Bit no. We are still leering people in and welcoming illegal immigrants. The economy could have still be working and testing would have controlled it more.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      That Australia – like New Zealand – made better use of its being an island than we did?

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      Australia is not an international transport hub. It is also largely a mono-culture without families travelling too/from international hotspots.

      Andy mentions Australia and New Zealand as examples of how to deal with this crisis but if I wanted to live in a boring mono-culture I would have moved to one.

      • Original Richard
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 11:16 am | Permalink

        Yes, Australia is not a transport hub like the UK.

        I was surprised to learn recently that travel between African countries was mainly via the UK/LHR.

    • Duyfken
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the responses to my question. It does seem that prompt action with restrictions on travel/migration has been effective. As for “boring mono-culture”, I cannot agree – Oz has imported many cultures, the more the case during the last 70 years or so, but of course as an Australian I am biased.

    • Mark
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      It is quite notable that the virus spread seems to have been limited in almost the whole of the tropics and the Southern hemisphere. That may change as they move into winter in the more Southerly countries. 40-50 degrees North seems to be a high spread. Further North, less so.

  8. Stred
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    The lack of use of the Nightingale hospital is strange, after the triumph of the opening of a 2000 bed facility. This is about the same number as the patients being treated in the inner London hospitals in total. These hospitals are not treating patients with other life threatening diseases because of lack of infection control and the committment of the staff to Covid.
    Presumably, the equipment and staff could be transferred to the Nightingale, but are the compartmented mass wards suitable? Are the staff, who have been recruited from older retired nurses and doctors able to work there with available PPE?
    If the NHS doesn’t reopen for cancer, heart and other diseases the death toll, which is already the fifth highest in the world, will be increasing.

    • Stred
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      When testing of residential care homes and houses with cases is increased the number of Covid deaths is likely to become much higher than the one third attributed to the sudden overall increase certified recently. Will this testing happen in the near future?

      • Anonymous
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

        Either way it didn’t lead to the overwhelming of the NHS that we’ve crashed to economy to prevent.

        • Stred
          Posted April 27, 2020 at 7:02 am | Permalink

          Doctors and nurses are still working 12 hour continuous shifts in London and other hot spots. How much longer can this continue?

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      Those with serious conditions like cancer feel like second class citizens.

  9. Alan Jutson
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    The truth is in your last sentence JR.

    “No one has any idea how many people in the community have or have had CV 19”

    Thus all government figures from around the World are a simple calculation based upon variable information, injected with some localised part known facts.

    Policy is/has been therefore made with a calculated guesstimate as to what may be the best way to “Manage” the situation, until a mass vaccination programme is developed and put in place.

    The cost of the management solution is huge, and at some stage someone is going to have to be brave and put a figure on what protecting a life is worth !

    • Reaction Harry
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      Random testing of a sample of the population would tell you a lot about Ro and how many have already been infected, are still infected, were asymptomatic, etc which would in turm possibly make the mathematical models worth subjecting to peer review. At present, I assume that their logic depends on decent parameters and as they say HIHO – horsesh*t in, horsesh*t out.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      NICE had put it at £30,000 per year of extended life last year.

      The UK is not new to putting a financial value on life. Now it seems that a cancer patient has zero value and a COVID-19 patient infinite value.

      • APL
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

        Anon: “The UK is not new to putting a financial value on life. Now it seems that a cancer patient has zero value and a COVID-19 patient infinite value.”

        That’s what comes of allowing the BBC to make government policy on the hoof.

    Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    This isn’t about stats, graphs and diagrams. No one believes that propaganda. It’s concocted by a group of government advisers, civil service lackeys, NHS commissars and some wonks from one of the Labour’s education establishments (Oxford or Imperial) designed to massage public feeling. That’s not informative, that’s deliberate deceit.

    We saw the same with Campbell’s ‘Dirty Dossier’. It’s the same thing.

    Deceit is rampant, deliberate and designed to pique fear. Invoke fear, create a victim mentality. Political objective achieved. A population of victims all so easily manipulated, controlled and herded like a fearful flock. A Marxist’s dream come true and all carried out by politicians masquerading as Tories

    I was desperate to see the Brexit Party make Parliamentary inroads into filth Labour’s heartlands in the north to expose the Tory party for what it’s become. Alas, we can now see what happens when the cosy duopoly in the Commons is maintained.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      Desperate you are indeed, it appears.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      Sadly Farage is a paper tiger, not a viable alternative, never has been.

      • rose
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

        Alas, he has alas suffered a moral collapse since Boris became PM. It looks very much as if he is piqued and has forgotten his patriotism.

        • rose
          Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

          also suffered not alas.

    • Mark B
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 4:27 am | Permalink

      I agree with every word.

      As someone above alludes to. Why shout the whole country down when it is large population centres that are most at risk ?

  11. Bryan Harris
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink


    The more inaccurate the figures the less trust of government policy will follow, and worse.

    At a time like this transparency is vital

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      Agreed Brian – but fear I am more likely to see a flock of pigs going overhead first.

      And don’t forget – our figures include the “withs” not just the “froms”. This “blame the virus” is being used for anything. Create panic, then realise that people start to see the flaws in the plan to control and monitor.

    • Peter Wood
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      Trust in government is the issue. This ‘lockdown’ is a first for a pandemic, lethal infection. Never before has this occurred, for why? Is there something else being investigated and we are the experiment? When has a government, ever, risked economic collapse and possible elimination for a few tens of thousand lives, or a fraction of a percent of the total population? Does this make sense?

      • SM
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

        You appear to think that the UK government is the only one to apply a lockdown, which is patently wrong, it’s being done by many governments right across the world.

        The fact that you and I may think it’s the wrong approach is another matter.

    • Hope
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      How about soro- surveys to test spread among wider community carried out by Stanford university in Santa Clara California, Los Angeles county etc?

      Still open borders explanation criticised world wide and making no sense whatsoever. 130 countries have some form of border control, checks and quarantine, all countries have expert advice. This is how our got country infected, it was shown to be the case with SARS in South Korea.

      Why did the govt deliberately release the most vulnerable from the disease (old people) from hospital to care homes to infect more vulnerable old people without testing and now many have died. We are repeatedly told scientifically led govt. decisions when a muppet could guess what would happen from statistics around the world. Also applies to the above.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      Dear Bryan–I wonder if it is just me that wonders a bit about this word ‘transparent’. Not losing sleep, but what exactly is being seen through? Glass is transparent but not at all sure what needs to be transparent in the Government’s figures, or is it the Government’s motives or (lack of?) expertise that are being questioned?

      • Bryan Harris
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        Decisions and policy need to be based on totally transparent data that is accurate and un-manipulated…. and the the reasoning on why it has to be these decisions and policies has to be clear…

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted April 27, 2020 at 11:50 am | Permalink

          Dear Bryan–You use “transparent data” but what exactly is being seen through?

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

        In the Governments book transparent means you can’t see it at all, like glass.

  12. rose
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Oh for a bit more of your clear thinking in the media.

    I read more and more anecdotal accounts of people having the symptoms since as far back as August, but mostly October and November. Further back than the authorities seem to allow which seems to be December or January. They all have proximity to Chinese students in common, whereas the officially recognized early cases seem to have been mostly skiing in Austria or Italy.

    This is interesting to me in the South West, as our curve is very flat and very low, even in Bristol where we have less than 500 cases officially but a lot of Chinese students. We have just two hospitals where the figures are being gathered and the whole of Cornwall has only one, thus giving the appearance of near immortality.

    I know quite a few people who have had the cough and several who have had the temperature so it would be interesting to know how many more there are across the city. I caught it from a friend in October after talking to her for just a minute. She is never ill normally but was very ill with this and I have only recently got over the cough though it still lingers a bit.

    • Mark B
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 4:37 am | Permalink

      . . . early cases seem to have been mostly skiing in Austria or Italy.

      It has been widely stated that the Italians sold their leather industry to the Chinese and that the Chinese brought in their own labour to replace them. As Austria borders Italy and that it is Northern Italy that has been the most affected, it is not so hard to see why.

      • rose
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        Yes, this has been much remarked on, but not the student question.

  13. oldtimer
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    I read that the the rules governing the signing of death certificates were changed in the government’s emergency legislation for dealing with the pandemic. These included that doctors could do so remotely and that they provided greater latitude when ascribing a cause. If true it seems to me that this introduces greater uncertainty about the data and potential for manipulation of the data. It also seems to me that the government must be deliberately obfuscating the results by not providing a better analysis. It is not as though there is any hanging back at throwing money at the problem.

    • SM
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know if this helps, but my 85 yr old father-in-law dropped dead (quite literally and suddenly) in his home 40 years ago. He had not been ill, so hadn’t seen a doctor for quite some time.

      I discussed ’cause of death’ with his GP, as there was nothing obvious, and he advised that ‘old age’ would be the most sensible. No inquest, no autopsy, no medical examination, no problem. Looks like the rules have NOT changed.

      • rose
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

        When my 93 year old father in law died of natural causes sitting in his chair, he should have been able to be carried across the lane into the churchyard opposite. Alas, death bureaucracy being what it was, he was taken away into Truro, stuck in a fridge, and then made to undergo a post mortem, because he had not been under the doctor when he died. It was quite some time before he got to the churchyard. Perhaps it depends on the doctor.

  14. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Yes, the worldometer charts show the USA well below UK and the larger EU countries.

    I’m glad it’s not just me who thinks the chart showing USA way higher than UK/EU is another establishment plan to twist the facts.

    • Know-Dice
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      If you look at deaths per million of population USA is at 164 and UK 299 (Germany @ 70)

      But then maybe bring population density into the equation…

      Population per sq mile

      USA = 87
      UK = 710
      Germany = 603

      Add in Sweden that seems to have taken a very different approach.
      Deaths per million = 217
      Population density = 60

      So many different ways of looking at this….

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

        Most people still live in towns, cities, and villages however low the population density.

        They are not spread out evenly, and it is ridiculous to suggest that they are.

        But the UK has a pretty dense population in both senses of the word.

        We have a referendum and recent General Election to prove it.

        • hefner
          Posted April 27, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

          MiC, you’re naughty.

          • Fred H
            Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

            not quite what most of us would have said.

        • Mark
          Posted April 27, 2020 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

          Cardiff has had the highest rates of virus infections of anywhere in the UK. Is it something in the water?

          • Edward2
            Posted April 27, 2020 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

            Maybe the water is dense.

    • Peter
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      So we do not have reliable figures for very much.

      I assume we have reliable figures for the total number of deaths in the U.K. and comparative figures for previous years. The difference will indicate the scale of any health issue that has emerged so far.

      Other than that it is speculation as to what may occur in future – some sensible, some not.

      We have numbers of deaths ascribed to covid but doubts as to whether this accurate. Some may die of other causes but get classified as covid deaths. In other cases genuine covid caused death may be missed.

      Then we have the use of figures to support a desired plan, or to score political points or move up or down some sketchy comparative international league table of covid deaths.

      None of this is very reassuring.

    • Abendrot
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      The worldometer charts default is the total number of cases in that territory, but you can sort the data on other headings, such as deaths/million or tests/million depending on your interest.

      • Mark
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

        Or copy it and do scatter plots, which is much more interesting.

  15. Everhopeful
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Three cabinet ministers . Three cabinet ministers.
    See how they squirm. See how they squirm.
    They know that the “cure” is killing the sick.
    They economy’s screwed and needs saving quick.
    Will we now get a dose of realpolitik .
    From three cabinet ministers?

    • Everhopeful
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      Please sing in unison to the tune of “Three Blind Mice”.

    • Mark B
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 4:44 am | Permalink

      Very good 🙂

  16. Jasper
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    I am delighted to see the Government has decided to advise anyone coming to the UK to self isolate for 14 days – I hate to hear the MSM critise the Government, with the benefit of hind sight, but the Government really should have done this weeks ago. We were on holiday in the Maldives beginning of March and we had our temperature taken by the hotel morning and afternoon. You could not enter a shop/restaurant without someone squirting hand sanitizer in your hands. You were not allowed to pick anything up unless you were buying it. If supermarkets did this or shops when we release the lockdown then that will help stop the transfer of the virus from hands to items/goods.

  17. Martin in Cardiff
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    The figures from China may be unreliable in some regards, but it’s as well to grasp perhaps why.

    January 20th is a crucial date in the trajectory of coronavirus and the world’s preparedness. For it was on this day that the Chinese government sent the country’s top epidemiologist, Zhong Nanshan, to Wuhan to investigate a virus which by then was spreading rapidly through the city’s 11 million people.

    Dr Nanshan soon thereafter went on national television to warn the Chinese people to avoid Wuhan, reporting that coronavirus was spreading quickly and that doctors were dying of it.

    Zhong also revealed that local officials had attempted to cover up the seriousness of the contagion, going so far as to infer that the mayor of Wuhan and rising star within the Chinese Communist Party, Zhou Xianwang, was a liar.

    Two days after after Nanshan’s television address the Chinese government locked down Wuhan, stopping anyone from either leaving or entering and enforcing strict restrictions on movement within. Dr. Zhong Nanshan, it should be mentioned, led China’s response to the SARS outbreak of 2002 and 2003.

    The important point to emphasise is that while local officials in Wuhan, up to and including the city’s mayor, attempted to cover up and downplay the seriousness of the virus in its early stages, there was no attempt by the Chinese government to do so. Instead Beijing responded with impressive alacrity and organisation, pouring in thousands of doctors and troops, building temporary hospitals, introducing mass testing and contact tracing, and getting on top of the outbreak in a manner that has put Europe and the US to shame.

    There is now too much independent evidence to deny China’s general success in this regard, although there may well be uncertainty as to detail.

    • dixie
      Posted April 28, 2020 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

      @Mic – you decline to cite the source of your material, so here is another perspective, from the NZ Herald 23rd April;

      China didn’t warn public of likely pandemic for 6 key days –

      “In the six days after top Chinese officials secretly determined they likely were facing a pandemic from a new coronavirus, the city of Wuhan at the epicentre of the disease hosted a mass banquet for tens of thousands of people; millions began travelling through for Lunar New Year celebrations.

      President Xi Jinping warned the public on the seventh day, January 20. But by that time, more than 3000 people had been infected during almost a week of public silence, according to internal documents obtained by The Associated Press and expert estimates based on retrospective infection data.”

      It appears they did not act with alacrity but knew for 6 days (at least) and allowed infected people to disperse. I do not consider this “impressive” behaviour, nor China’s attempts to exploit the fallout in many countries nor their attempts to shift blame.

  18. Caterpillar
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    No clear and consistent data and no decision framing. How is this possible so late in the day?

    (As I mentioned yesterday the Civil Service has decision scientists in it, are they being used?)

  19. glen cullen
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Get the numbers right

    Friday 76 migrants crossed english channel
    Saturday 35 migrants crossed english channel

    These are the figures reported by BBC so there could be many more

  20. a-tracy
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Rachel Reeves on Marr – arghhh – I don’t usually watch Marr but this staying in is getting boring. How can care home deaths be included in covid19 death figures when we don’t test the people that died in care/nursing homes and check what they died of!

    We seem for the first time in my life to be talking about death figures every day, often these figures are incorrect, they say over 800 per day when in other reports we read more than half are miscounted from previous days that then seem to be double counted (when the ONS get published).

    20,000 deaths in hospital from covid19 since March 1st, how many ‘other’ deaths were there in our hospitals from March 1st to-date and how does this compare to usual months?

    Approx 20,000 deaths in care and nursing homes, how many are there normally in two months.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      all Pneumonia and flu deaths are now officially included in the Covid19 death count.

    • Reaction Harry
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      Probably the most reliable figures are total weekly/monthly deaths compared to the same period in previous years, making the assumption that the difference is down to the new Chinese virus one way or another. Surprisingly, the daily briefings don’t dwell on such figures!

    • Mark B
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 4:48 am | Permalink

      . . . staying in is getting boring.

      Then go out ! Public transport where I am is FREE !! 🙂

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:57 am | Permalink

        I take enough risks working MarkB!

  21. Lifelogic
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Well they could also adjust the UK figures to include deaths outside hospitals the true figure for the UK is then about 40,000. The best indication of this is just the excess death rate over normal for this time of year each day. We can safely assume that virtually all the excess deaths are caused by (or accelerated) by Covid19. Other deaths are likely to have fallen do to cancelled operations, fewer other infection due to the lock down, fewer traffic accidents and the likes.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      Or because the NHS is closed to very ill people?

  22. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    One of the worst aspects of reporting has been the misleading use of statistics. This is particularly unacceptable when we are told that decisions are made on the basis of achieving certain critical criteria only to find that those criteria have not been reported accurately or consistently.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      Yes..but MSM are left of Stalin and would love to see Boris with egg on his face
      The worse it is made to appear… the better it is for the Left.
      To give the tories some credit…this is a very difficult call.
      Mind you..surely they are aware of all the past disasters predicted by one of their scientific advisors?
      I believe that he said in 2005 that 500 million would die from bird flu. Under 300 actually died worldwide apparently.

      • rose
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

        He also commanded the NHS to double to deal with Swine Flu. Unfortunately Messrs Blair and Brown left “no money” so nothing was done to double the NHS and the flu disappeared into the population as usual.

      • Mark B
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 4:52 am | Permalink

        The thing is, if you want to be noticed, shout “FIRE, FIRE, FIRE !!” as loudly as you can. It does not matter if there is a fire, people will panic and run for the nearest exit.

        When I join a company one of the first things I ask for, is on what day and at what time their fire test happens. This way I know when it goes off, to ignore it. In the past when it has gone off, I have been the first to leave. You will be amazed at the number of people standing around waiting to be told what to do.

  23. a-tracy
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Did Marr tell the truth about the German lockdown , I do not believe the Germany lock down a week before us.

    Bavaria announced a lock down at Midnight on 20th March, so did London!

    • hefner
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      The difference is that Germany had been made aware of the problem from mid-January (people in Munich coming back from skiing holidays) and the Laender in the South near the border with Italy and Austria started to test immediately. The testing was generalised in February. So yes the ‘federal’ lock down was on 20/03 but schools had been closed nationally 5 days before. And on 20/03 already 200,000+ tests had been carried out. How many had been carried out in the UK at the same date?

      As of 26/04/2020 19:00 Germany has 24,738 tests per million inhabitants, the UK 9,867.

      • rose
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

        Germany has never had an ideological hang up against private labs. Or against insurance for healthcare. Or against healthcare not being centralised soviet style. Or against healthcare being intrinsically bound up with private enterprise. In addition, Germany has a chemicals industry to rival Japan and the US. So Germany was all ready to go when it came to testing. Our Health Secretary, who does not administer the NHS had to set a target of 100,000 to get PHE to drop its refusal to use private labs. He also had to bring in the army to organize the logistics. 26,000 administrators and £114 billion couldn’t manage to adapt to the new emergency.

        If a Health Secretary one day suggests we go over to the German system of healthcare, do you think he would get home in one piece?

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:55 am | Permalink

        hefner, I’d be interested if Germany told the rest of the EU about them knowing about this problem and starting testing as early as mid-January to warn people not to go on their half-term holidays to these infected regions, and if so why did our government ignore the warning and not stop holiday makers?

  24. Annette Bates
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    They could also change the ‘deaths announced’ figure. The impression given is that these are the deaths for a day, whereas there is an initial figure for that day, topped up with ‘adjustments’ to previous days. There is no excuse for this as numbers are attributed to each day in the NHS statistics. It can only be for the purposes of keeping up ‘fear’ to justify continuing what is increasingly seen as a disproportionate reaction. On 25th April, the numbers ‘announced’ contained ‘adjustments’ to every day bar 3 that that deaths have occurred- going all the way back to March 11th. There is justification for the previous day and at a stretch the preceding day to that, but they should be split & announced as separate figures, providing a clearer picture. The constant changing of prior periods, added to the growing stories of non-covid19 deaths being attributed to the virus, reduces further any trust in the figures.
    The perceived lack of joined-up thinking & positivity, combine with the above leading to conclusions that the virus is being used as an excuse for a different agenda. Whilst the majority are locked up, and Ministers ‘threaten’ people, planeloads of people, including imported ‘workers’, arrive with no testing. Whilst people are banned from beaches, the illegal boats rock up with impunity. Garden Centres & other businesses are closed when they could operate with the oxymoron ‘social distancing’. The law has been made more punitive in England without Parliamentary scrutiny. Is it any wonder that people are starting to ignore the Govt.? There is no incentive to re-open & dismantle the authoritarian rule. Why isn’t the public sector subject to the loss of earnings & livelihood that the private sector is experiencing?
    As to Rishi ‘loadsamoney’ Sunak, during a time of hardship for those that pay the taxes how dare he pledge our money to match a faux ‘charity’ on the propaganda station BBC, a place that is now preventing people from stopping their licence as they no longer watch the agenda-driven output. Why aren’t Ministers challenging the outrageous claims & same policiticed questions from the media?
    The Govt, having been led by the nose by the MSM and dodgy ‘modelling’ into their actions, are obviously no longer leading & seem to be getting more perverse in justifying their actions and doubling down rather than acting with leadership. With more people applying sanity & sensible precautions in applying their own prevention measures, the Govt is looking a bit weak & pathetic.

  25. Pat
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Count deaths, forget about cases or admissions. Cases rise with testing, and give no idea as to the prevalence of the disease. Admissions depend on opinion, which will vary according to the number of hospital places thought to be available – If the hospitals are overloaded only the most serious cases will be admitted, if there are loads of spare beds people will be admitted as a precaution.
    We need population wide random tests, both for the virus and the antibodies, to get a handle on this, far more than we need to test key workers.

  26. Christine
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    I’d only be interested in two lots of stats:

    First, the ONS figure for weekly deaths compared with previous years. This will show if there has been a spike in deaths for the time of year. It will give the best indication of deaths from COVID-19. If we can get similar stats from other reputable countries this will help our understanding of how effective different treatments are, is there a different strain of the virus that is less lethal and does race and culture have a bearing on the outcome.

    Second, test a random sample of the public to find out how prevalent the virus is within the general population. Testing stations could be set up outside supermarkets in areas with low, average and high hospital admission rates. The test would be by invitation only, with the medical team randomly selecting participants and no advance notice given of where the testing sites will be. We wouldn’t want to repeat the recent flawed antibody study carried out by Stanford university in the USA, where they asked for volunteers via social media and used unreliable Chinese test kits.

    Once we have a reliable antibody test this can be carried out in conjunction with the random virus test giving us an idea of immunity.

    • hefner
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      Look at ‘Weekly all-cause mortality surveillance week 17’, which shows time-series for previous years and this year till week 17.

      • Christine
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

        Interesting stats. The same period for 2019 registers deaths at around 10,000 per week. Current deaths are increasing weekly with the latest figure recorded at 18,516. Stats for the same period for 2018 are missing but earlier weeks ran at about 13,000. Comparing the data available for weeks 10-15 we can see 16,452 extra deaths have occurred during this period which I expect are due to COVID-19.

      • Christine
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:11 am | Permalink

        I found this page on the site which is a study being set up to identify the virus and antibodies in the general population. “Government begins large-scale virus infection and antibody test study”

        This is just the sort of information we require. The only flaw I can see is that it’s only targeting a socially responsible group of people and not the general population.

    • Reaction Harry
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      I agree, of course we should have such data; I can’t believe that the government don’t have it because without it, how do they seed their mathematical models (whose logic hasn’t been exposed to peer review). Polling companies are expert at selecting statistically valid representative samples, as they do for exit polls for example.

    • Mark
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      It is worth comparing not just against recent background levels of deaths, but deaths during previous epidemics. There have been quite a few flu epidemics since the famous ones. The Inproportion2 website has some interesting data originating from the ONS going back to 1995, showing peak deaths of over 20,000 in some weeks. Of course, it isn’t just a question of the peak week, but the effect of the overall epidemic that matters.

  27. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Listening to Prof Christoph Fraser on Marr, it seems clear that if the Cygnus exercise had lead (only, with no other actions whatsoever) to his app being developed in 2016-17 at presumably minimal cost, and 80% of mobile phone users were now using it, the lockdown could have been avoided.

  28. AJAX
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    A warning to all those calling for an abandonment of epidemic caution, who appear not to understand how dangerous pandemics are:

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      We do understand how dangerous pandemics are. We also understand how dangerous economic depressions are. The argument for lock-down is to extend the pandemic until a vaccine is found – which may be never.

      The 1918 flu was more infectious and killed young, economically active people who could not be selectively locked-down. This virus seems to be the reverse.

      This is not a lives vs money issue. It is lives vs lives.

  29. Ian @Barkham
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    The Government keeps falling into traps. To a large degree Government is guided by its Civil Servants/Mandarins, they themselves seem to be the same bunch that set out to derail Brexit. Civil Service revenge?

    Whom ever decided on the format for the daily briefings needs moving aside. The Figures are by every sensible measure are wrong in that they seem to set out to deflect and detract – so are meaningless. They are not comparative with anything, so why compare?

    Then we have the vanity parade of out of touch look at me on TV media twerps. Yet the Government gets suckered in every time. An interviewer never, that never asks a question they don’t already know the answer to. The art it to trip up the interviewee, if you don’t know the answer to the question, you ask a question that can have no answer – the how long is a piece of string question. The idea is that as interviewer/questioner you get to look superior(or is it smug) to the interviewee. – The framing of these meaningless briefings is such those on the podiums will always look inept. Which part of the Civil Service is orchestrating them?

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      GOTCHYA journalism.

      It’s never pointed out that France and Belgium’s death rates are a lot worse than ours. Trump was given his usual kicking in the BBC news (perhaps he deserves it) but they finished by saying “This at a time when America’s deaths exceed 50,000” without mention of the fact that the rate is only around 52% of France’s and probably a good deal lower than the EU total.

  30. Ian @Barkham
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    To days observation.

    The MsM is still publishing up-to-date(?) images of authorities, police, NHS workers who haven’t a clue what Social Distancing means. In that they never Social Distance but insist everyone else does.

    We are all in the together? Not really – very much them and us.

  31. William Long
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Yes, these charts do little more than expose the fact that, appart as you say from Hospital Admissions with confirmed Covid-19, the statistical evidence behind the ‘Science’ that the Government is so rigorously following, is almost totally lacking, particularly when it comes to comparing the experience of one country with another and trying to learn from it.

  32. Roy Grainger
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    The real question from the data, comparing like with like, is why Germany, which is directly comparable to UK, has about the same number of reported infections but a much much lower death rate. One obvious reason might be because their health service is better – not better front-line doctors and nurses necessarily but better organised, better managed and better funded and with a better privatised/insurance-based model. These are going to be very difficult issues for any UK politician to discuss so I imagine they won’t bother. But it looks to me like the German health service should be the envy of the world.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      According to some German chap (can’t remember his role – but very involved in it all) on Marr this morning the main reason is that Germany has over 40,000 ICU beds, 30,000 of which have ventilators. They have, apparently, been criticised in the past for having too much capacity.

      One would never hear that criticism in this country. If we spend the whole of the government’s tax take on the NHS, it would not be enough for some people.

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:52 am | Permalink

        Did Germany reveal how many patients they actually put on those 30,000 ventilators and how many people they treated in those 40,000 ICU beds and what treatment they gave them in those that our NHS perhaps didn’t have available?

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      Maybe they are just counting the CV19 deaths? Maybe they don’t know that to justify bankrupting the country they need to get the death rate up at any cost?

    • forthurst
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      The management of the epidemic in Germany has been guided by a preconceived plan of the Robert Koch Institute for the control of an epidemic. The RKI is headed by a Professor of Microbiology. Germany has been doing more testing than the UK, thereby detecting asymptomatic cases and having better information on the spread of the epidemic.

    • Thomas E
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      Germany has done 2.5 times the number of tests per capita compared to the UK and was conducting contact tracing throughout the epidemic and testing mild cases. For most of the epidemic the UK was predominantly testing only hospital admissions…

      • Fred H
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

        I’d have guessed more like x 10.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

      Herr Drosten, a virology institute director in Berlin, observed that Germany had not seen as much transmission to seniors nor nosocomial outbreaks in hospitals. If this difference is true, whether it remains and the reasons for it will be informative in the final analysis.

  33. Anonymous
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Surely, few of those over – say – 78 (average age of death in UK males) and already living with a critical illness can be said to have died *of* COVID-19.

  34. APL
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    When this blows over and from the smoking ruins of our economy. Please Mr Redwood a Royal commission on the part played by the BBC in spreading disinformation, fear and dread.

    Every day, the headline deaths, always without context.

    The BBC reporting Eddie Large’s death and associating it with COVID-19 when he was 78 and had had a heart transplant in 2003. The man was on immune suppressants to avoid rejection of the doner organ.

    A common cold could have killed him.

    But the BBC ( domestic terrorist organisation ) links his death with COVID-19. In order to spread panic and fear among the population.

    • The Prangwizard
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      To undermine confidence in government’s attempts to deal with the virus.

  35. Chris B
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    “No-one has any idea how many people in the community have or have had CV 19”
    Also no-one has any idea if there is a climate effect. Or how many people get CV and don’t have symptoms. It’s possible the problem has passed (or nearly) and we should be worrying more about next winter.

  36. Iain Moore
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    “The government needs consistent and accurate figures as a basis for decision”

    As well as keeping the population on side, by not attributing deaths to correct day the charts the Government present us with suggests the lockdown policy is not working. If you are going to inflict this amount of pain on the country people need a bit of hope that this has been worthwhile and some evidence of its success, by failing to be accurate about the deaths it’s as if the Government is going out of its way to sabotage its own policy.

  37. Everhopeful
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    I personally know three people who have been sent home from hospital to make room for apparent COVID19 patients.
    And elderly cousin who was and may still be haemorrhaging badly ( cause unknown due to early discharge).
    An even more elderly aunt who had been admitted for “low oxygen levels” before it was “discovered” that this was a symptom of cv. She is coping at home.
    A young man with mental problems who was sent home very, very sick.
    Not one of them was “tested”…
    In any case isn’t it said that none of the “research”/tests fulfil Koch’s Postulates?

    • hefner
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      Koch’s postulates are for bacterial infection, Covid-19 is linked to a virus.
      Furthermore a quick look on wikipedia appears to indicate that these four postulates (1884) have been shown in a number of circumstances not to be postulates but just some assertions/hypotheses.

      • Everhopeful
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

        Not true.
        KPs used for viruses too.
        Look it up!

  38. Fred H
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Sir John, You might be becoming out of touch. My view that Governments withhold truth in a political ‘this isn’t a good day to reveal it’ position is commonly held. Why do you think there is so much criticism ? Why do Parties bring out a slogan to frighten voters against the other Parties? They get elected by being seen as the least undesirable. This last time Conservatives won by being able to agree on Boris + Brexit, yet half your party didn’t vote for either until it was ultimatum time. The other was Corbyn – a stupid Labour challenge.
    I notice you often either don’t include my views, or include a day or two later when perhaps you hope few will read, but avoiding claims you don’t publish.
    If anyone is to wake up the slumbering Party from a slow death it is you.
    Don’t lose the ‘common touch’.
    The man on the Clapham omnibus will have to be reckoned with, and will have a long memory.

    • hefner
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      Unfortunately I am not as optimistic as you are: The man on the Clapham omnibus might remember a few fuzzy things but is likely to vote again for the same bunch of soothsayers, specially if the voting system is still stuck in palaeolithic times (hello Edward2).

      • Edward2
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        Just got to get your sarcastic comments in eh hef
        I support FPTP
        Strong Government
        Go and live in Italy.

  39. Polly
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    If hospitals test patients for C-19, why did hospitals send large numbers of non emergency C-19 positive patients to ordinary care homes which previously were free of C-19 ?

    Of the various scandals lining up in front of the Conservative government, which hopefully will not ultimately be swept under the carpet, this one looks particularly horrible………

    ”Care homes’ soaring death rate blamed on ‘reckless’ order to take back Covid-19 patients”


  40. Tom Rogers
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    The British government, in common with lots of other governments, has fallen into the classic trap of relying on ‘experts’ to guide policy. Experts can be clever people, no doubt about that, but they are there to advise only. They must not be allowed to make policy decisions, or act as pilots for policy decisions. Whenever that happens, the decision is almost-always going to be wrong. The mistake arises from not understanding the variables that influence expert opinions and from a lack of ability on the part of those who now run government, partly due to the emergence of supra-national technocracies that have been allowed to take over decision-making.

    Nowadays, whenever I hear that such-and-such a person is an ‘expert’, I know that what I am about to hear will almost-always be wrong.

    I do not have a medical degree. I am not an ‘expert’. But I am left with the same observations I made a month or so ago on this very same blog:

    (i). One day I will die.
    (ii). One day you will die.
    (iii). We will all die one day.

    Unless there has been an astounding medical breakthrough that I am not aware of, these facts remain current, and do not require a medical degree to be surmised.

    I also have a thought about infection control. Bear with me here as I speak as a mere layman, but it seems to me that the following are also medical facts that can be surmised or figured out without a medical degree:

    (iv). I have a natural immune system.
    (v). You have a natural immune system.
    (vi). We all, each of us, have a natural immune system.

    Forgive me, but isn’t the whole point of getting sick that the body needs to fight off infections, using its immune system. In other words, our bodies deliberately make us sick as a defence mechanism. Isn’t that the case? You are supposed to be sick. Thus, how can isolation of healthy people make sense?

    SARS Cov-2 (I think that’s the technical term for it) is not life-threatening and the symptoms that manifest in Covid-19 should be fairly mild. If your defences are so weak that you become critical and/or die from it, maybe that means it’s your time and you’re supposed to die? I know that’s not nice, but it’s Nature. There comes a point when the effort in saving you is too costly for the rest of society. We can’t just shut everything down because lots of people might die of an ordinary illness.

    • Zorro
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      Exactly, but this is a geo-political and economic crisis which is using this crisis as an excuse.


    • Mike Wilson
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      So, to recap:

      Experts are generally wrong.

      You are not an expert. Therefore, you are right.

      Interesting view of the world. You seem to be leaning towards solipsism.

      • sok
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        funny reply)

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

      The Prime Minister says, that if not for the treatment he received, then he would be dead through this virus.

      There are plenty of people who were in in their prime less fortunate than him too.

      Your callous nonsense shows you to be in the moral abyss, I think.

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink

        For callous nonsense you only have to listen to opposition spokespeople and twitterati who claim that Boris illness was all a con, he wasn’t so sick and people in the hospital were forced to sign a secrecy act to cover it up and a couple of them refused to!!

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

          I haven’t come across any of that among those whom I read.

    • Reaction Harry
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      The problem is not so much the experts themselves as the politicians in general who choose the expert opinions that suit them and their prejudices. Recall the expert economists pronouncing endless nonsense about Brexit and cliff edges. JR is a noticeable exception which is probably why we are all on here reading his blog.

    • Mark B
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 5:21 am | Permalink

      Viruses are just another one Mother Nature’s ways of weeding out the strong from the weak. Harsh, but TRUE.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 6:40 am | Permalink

        No, in the case of CV, the overweight from the slim, the old from the young, blood group A from the others, men from women, and so on.

        Strength and weakness doesn’t seem to figure that prominently.

  41. Richard Jenkins
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    CEO of Roche quoted in the FT saying that UK has never invested in the instruments necessary to carry out high volume testing. Instead of asking for help from Swiss, German and American companies with the necessary expertise, NHS and PHE pursue their “not invented here” policy. So UK will remain unable to test large population to determine the level of immunity.

  42. gyges
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    As someone who is trying to get a handle on the stats via the Imperial College MOOC and Kaggle, I find the lack of statistics incredible. I can’t see how any sensible decisions can be made under these circumstances …

  43. Man of Kent
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Delighted to see that Chinese figures will not be included as ‘Government cannot be sure how they were compiled .’

    Will that also be applied to Huawei ?
    Oh I had forgotten they are quite independent of the Chinese Government so their assurances will be accepted .

    Let’s hope Government gets its presentation of deaths by country right on a per million basis .
    There’s a great deal that can be deduced from the way in which Government presents ‘ facts’.

  44. bigneil(newercomp)
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Is it true that soldiers are to be manning the testing points? Is that to give a “threat” to the public? Make them feel intimidated? Pity the soldiers can’t be stationed at Dover to safeguard our borders, because the Border Farce clearly aren’t. A case of priorities? English bad – foreign illegals good? Certainly looks that way.

    The testing points are a very good way to increase the National govt DNA database though. Probably the govt will supply samples to every govt bio-testing lab, and they can supply the insurance companies with all the info that says people have genetic flaws. Similar to the govt supplying Tesco with people’s info. Roll up Roll up – – everyone’s (except the important and rich of course ) info on sale to the highest bidder”.

    • Cheshire Girl
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      Im pretty sure that soldiers don’t make the public feel intimidated. Quite the reverse I would say.

      The British Army by and large is a very respected organisation, which is more than can be said for some Politicians.

    • Mark B
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 5:28 am | Permalink


      Too little, too late ! I mean, why bother ? The virus is here. It has spread. People have died. The economy is being trashed to save bureaucratic monolith that was solely created to save us.

      I shan’t be bothering to be tested.

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:45 am | Permalink

        MarkB are you working out of your home?
        you ask Why bother, well I can think of a couple of reasons.
        If you work away from home and you’ve self-isolated for a couple of weeks with a cough and you want to go back to work but your colleagues are worried you still have a cough they either want to know you’re clear of the virus or you are kept on sick leave, you can’t get a sick note from the GP without being tested.
        If you’ve been working and begin to self-isolate your colleagues and customers want to know if you have it or just hayfever, surely you’d like to know if a mini-market shop worker where you’ve been regularly shopping suddenly gets COVID 19 even with the measures they’ve been taking so that you can monitor your own temperature and health maybe take a vitamin boost.

  45. margaret howard
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    I mentioned before that my local health service’s telephone line tells us what to do if we show symptoms of the virus. They say to self isolate for 7 days and only dial 111 if we can’t manage on our own. Nothing about informing the authority. So how many cases of infection are not registered? And are we any better than the Chinese at hiding the TRUE figures?

    • Edward2
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      yes we are

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      For once I wholeheartedly agree with you Margaret.

    • Jiminyjim
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      What about the fact, MH, that not one single Chinese test kit has been found to be reliable.
      If you believe Chinese death stats, even within a factor of twenty to one of what they have claimed, you show you know nothing about how China works.
      Why do you hate the country you live in so much?

      • margaret howard
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

        I’m not concerned with the reliability or otherwise of Chinese test kits but with the fact that my local health service asks me to self isolate if I have the corona virus symptoms and doesn’t mention informing the authorities about my condition so giving incorrect figures.

        And I don’t believe that wanting ones country to be among the best is showing hatred towards it. Rather the opposite I would have thought.

        • hefner
          Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:31 am | Permalink

          MH ‘I don’t believe that wanting one’s country to be among the best is showing hatred towards it’.
          Exactly what I think, but so many here take any hint of criticism as hatred, simply because they have been spoon-fed since childhood that their country (or whatever in it) is the best in the ‘best of all possible worlds’.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 27, 2020 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

            It is just that lefty liberals immediately react negatively to the greatness of the UK.
            You both live here.
            Yet you are unhappy misersblecand hate the UK’s history.
            It amazes me why you just dont live somewhere you prefer.
            I would if I were you.

        • a-tracy
          Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:37 am | Permalink

          Self-isolated patients, other than those retired, are given a reference number for their business to claim back the statutory sick pay we usually pay out ourselves, so those numbers will be giving the government ideas of numbers as a percentage of the overall workforce.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

          It does seem rather odd, that some commenters here are apparently hoping that a second wave will wipe out the successes of countries such as Australia, New Zealand and so on, to spare the government that they so slavishly support its reckoning, Margaret.

          We’re learning all the time about them, aren’t we?

          • Edward2
            Posted April 28, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink

            Who has actually said that?
            More ridiculous nonsense from you.

  46. Dave Andrews
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    813 deaths yesterday was announced. Not that these all happened within the previous 24 hours, just the number collected on that day from reports spanning several days at least.
    So how many of these deaths were hospital and care home infections? Are we to see these numbers continue as new arrivals turn up at hospital, go into care homes and get infected having previously been safely isolated? If decisions are made just on the strength of numbers, does this mean we will never exit lockdown, as we can’t expect all patients in hospitals and residents in care homes to be put into isolation and treated by staff in Type 1 Hazmat suits?

  47. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    The Government should know that, if you want to pick out a trend, the very last thing you should do is change the basis of the figures. Let us keep hospital deaths and care home deaths separate, especially as the latter set of figures are unreliable. Let us also not transfer Coronavirus patients in care homes to hospitals where they can infect other people. Anti-Coronavirus treatment in care homes should be limited to the use of oxygen masks (no ventilators) and staff in care homes should not be required to work unless provided with full PPE.

    In case you all think that this is callous, let me give you a few facts about care homes. The average age of occupants is 85 and their average life expectancy is 2.5 years, for which the care home will charge you approximately £100,000. This is money that your children and grandchildren won’t inherit. The quality of life is truly awful – a single room bedsit with a few possessions, and a telly if you’re lucky. In addition, you may be wheeled down into a lounge where you can watch telly and fall asleep in the presence of your fellow geriatrics.

    Nobody will put me into a care home. When the time comes, I will have three bottles of aspirin and three bottles of Rioja ready.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      I will have three bottles of aspirin and three bottles of Rioja ready

      The aspirin will help with the hangover.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      My plan too. When I go bankrupt along with the rest of the U.K. I have a £5 note saved to buy the necessary.

      • Caterpillar
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

        The problem with this is that you still have to be capable of administering your own aspirin and Rioja, and to your choice being ‘successful’. This means people can make bad choices before the time has come; it is about time the U.K.’s position on assisted dying majorly changed.

        • hefner
          Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

 has been trying to change the UK position for years. Last year (03/2019) the news was that the Royal College of Physicians had changed its position on assisted suicide from opposed to neutral. But the BMA still opposes any move on the topics. Which allows MPs to take refuge behind the BMA position and say they ‘follow the science’ or the morals or whatever.

  48. steve
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    “I am glad to read today that the government is dropping the Chinese death figures from CV 19 from it deaths graph, as they cannot be sure about the basis on which they are compiled.”

    Perhaps it would have been better if the government had said ‘ignore the Chinese figures because they’re total lies & BS’ instead of corrupting the facts.

    We are not dumb enough to believe for a second that the CCP acts with any honesty whatsoever. To hell with diplomatic sensitivities.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      OK, you supply no evidence for your claims, but how do you explain the many videos posted by westerners in China, showing life returning to normal there?

      • Edward2
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

        You believe anything they tell you.
        What an innocent you are.
        Blinded by your bias.
        Is it likely a continent with billions of people would have such a small number of deaths?

      • Fred H
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

        Do we have videos of the queues at the 7(?) Wuhan crematoria to provide farewell? N0 we don’t because it was done in secrecy. It was reported that it was weeks before relatives got urns – how did they know what ashes went where? Just like you I believe the rumours out of Wuhan, at least the ones about the thousands of deaths covered up.
        The way it spread I’d guess the people who heard about what was happening got on planes to anywhere in a hurry – explains an awful lot in the rest of the world.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 27, 2020 at 6:47 am | Permalink

          You could say that about anywhere once you make accusations of secrecy, and you do when it suits you.

          But what does it matter?

          China appears, for whatever reason, no longer to have the problems that does this country, along with the US and others.

          That is the point.

          And anyway, if, as the fanatics here claim, it is really is just “like seasonal flu with a very low mortality” then why would there be any mass graves to hide?

          But some patriots you are, that you are content to excuse tens of thousands of your countryfolk’s needless deaths to keep this what-passes-for-a-government in power, if that would.

          • Fred H
            Posted April 27, 2020 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

            your last para is disgraceful, reaching for the outrageous as usual. If you paid attention, I do write often enough criticism of all parties, and only voted Tory as we have Sir John in my area. I expect a lot from Boris and keep pointing out he hasn’t done anything I want yet….Whether you tolerate the shocking deaths (worldwide) or not who do you think excuses it to keep this Government in place, and how do I remove it.?

            You keep pointing out an 80 majority mandates them for the full term. I wish you would button it you are a disgrace.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

            Martin swallows everything the Communists in China North Korea and Venezuela tell him Fred.
            He will deny the millions who died under Stalin too I expect.
            Blinded by political bias.

    • Mark B
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 5:33 am | Permalink

      If you compare the Chinese graph to the graphs of every other country you will find that it does not match. ie It (Chinese) does not follow the bell curve.

  49. steve
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Bryan Harris

    But then again when the country comes through this crisis life will be different, not just for us but also for government. We’ll get the transp

  50. steve
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    ……arency in the end.

  51. NickC
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    JR, Hospital deaths can be closely monitored, so the cause of death will be fairly accurately recorded (but not wholly so). Deaths in the community (street, home, carehome, etc) cannot be accurate – it is a judgement.

    A GP may put on the death certificate (for example) of someone who has died in the community: Part 1a) (the cause of death) Pneumonia; and Part 1b) (the presumed underlying cause) Covid 19. Of course a death does not have to have been caused by Covid 19, even if it was present.

    So numbers are affected by the GP’s clinical judgement. Then there is the issue of what the ONS judges to be relevant when it compiles the statistics from the death certificates. “Accurate” (in a mechanistic sense) the numbers are not, except in the few cases of autopsy.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      If testing kits had been widely available, as they are in many countries, then accurate figures could have been recorded.

      In a national emergency, logic suggests that gathering such information would have been a high priority – as it is elsewhere, clearly.

      The fact that no one in government here seems that bothered is rather revealing, I think.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

        So I test you today.
        Tomorrow you get infected.
        Should you then go out freely into society?
        Plus there is a problem with tests.
        None are 100%

  52. M Brandreth- Jones
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    They cannot get accurate figures . It is impossible unless they do an antibody test on every one everywhere . Earlier testing for the virus would have helped instead of assuming that herd immunity was going to happen in a few weeks.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

      You mean “survivor immunity”.

      Herd immunity is achieved by vaccination, and there is no vaccine.

      Nor is there any evidence that infection confers lasting immunity either.

      • M Brandreth- Jones
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        Herd immunity happens with either recurrent infections , not necessarily by vaccination , but also by vaccination. All it means is that many had a certain damaging protein in their system which the body created an antibody to . Protein via vaccination or acquired through aerosol infection produce the same effect.This is my job Martin.

        • Edward2
          Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

          Martin is an anti Tory armchair expert.

        • Everhopeful
          Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

          I read a really interesting article re African polio vac campaign. Apparently at one time just a few kids in a village could be vaccinated and herd immunity would occur. Now it does not happen. But the article didn’t explain why.

        • Fred H
          Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

          Martin – – I should stop digging if I were you.

        • Caterpillar
          Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

          M Brandreth Jones

          An antibody test on a sample can give very good point and CI estimates of prevalence*, the sample does not need to be that large. I thought this was one of the two main reasons for the Porton Down work (that we don’t hear results of ). The second being longitudinal study of antibodies in recovered patients.

          * There is some question whether this is viable in the young as T-cells may so the job without B-cells producing (m)any antibodies.

          • M Brandreth- Jones
            Posted April 27, 2020 at 6:32 am | Permalink

            yes .. I am aware. I have patients who are vaccinated again and again and their antibody titre level still does not rise.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 27, 2020 at 6:51 am | Permalink

          No, herd immunity has never been achieved without a vaccine.

          Humanity never did with smallpox, polio, TB, cholera, typhoid, diptheria, measles, and anything you care to mention.

          The virus would not exist if we had.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

            That cant be right otherwise all humans would have died in previous plagues.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted April 28, 2020 at 11:48 am | Permalink

            Don’t be silly Ed.

            The mortality was not 100%, and nor did everyone get infected.

            However populations as a whole did not become immune.

            People still die of bubonic plague etc.

            There is no herd immunity to it.

      • M Brandreth- Jones
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

        You are correct in the assumption that many vaccines don’t give lasting immunity . I administer many vaccines to all age groups and patients coming to me think that because they have been vaccinated or had a disease then they will not suffer again and they are immune.. not so.. The likelihood that a reinfection would be less severe is a strong possibility.
        When I take blood samples for immune levels of certain diseases , particularly for staff working with patients ,I often need to re vaccinate.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

      MB-J Do you think there were the tests and testers available in the U.K. earlier?

      • M Brandreth- Jones
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 6:31 am | Permalink

        No and that is what I mean , I began with what I self diagnosed as Covid-19 on March the 19th and if a test was available there would have been more certainty, however I don’t think I ever stated that tests were available. Strangely enough though, the following week Bolton advertised a drive through testing station!

  53. zorro
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    One thing for sure is that we will get very little transparency from this government as it attempts to extricate itself from this self-imposed Horlicks through their criminal lack of due diligence in challenging Ferguson’s projections which have been shown to be nonsense, and he still refuses to publish his code for peer review.

    JR, I think that you can clearly see what the issues are and you are trying to address them in your own way.

    The Chinese figures have been difficult to verify for sure, although the biggest deception is the graph showing the US way out ahead in numbers when they have a vastly larger population than the UK or other European countries. The per thousand or per million figures are far more illuminating….

    The figures for Sweden, whose main population centres have similar density to us show that the ‘lockdown’ has not significantly affected the death rate which would have followed that curve anyway as peak infection was three weeks before the peak death rate in early April so the ‘lockdown’ has not affected it. You will see this in the upcoming death figures which will continue unabated as the government plays with the figures including care homes and obfuscating around reported death and death dates. The confusion around the data and statistics and lack of clear trace to cause and effect in information/disinformation are so typical of these type of ‘events’…. It is meant to confuse and disorient people.

    The lack of consistency in data/figures is shocking and allows these events to be manipulated. We will never achieve these ‘five tests’ with this rationale.

    Ass you say, no sensible efforts have been made to establish the infection rate in the community and potentially extrapolate for the population at large. I wonder why? We were told that nearly everyone would get COVID 19 but the vast majority with little if any symptoms (convenient), but then they marked it down from being an HCID, so maybe not everyone would get it or ever would have, just like previous epidemics/pandemics where only around 15% would have got infected at the peak. Stating that everyone could be a carrier gives a lot of options to bring in and extend in a very opaque manner quarantine measures for a very long time.

    Can I plead that we also resolutely refuse to use this term ‘new normal’ which is being bandied about by politicians and civil servants? A message to the politicians and civil servants – we will NEVER accept this phrase and all it implies no matter how much you like it so that you can wield unaccountable power and inconvenience us!


  54. Iain Gill
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Advice from the scientists is apparently that incoming flights are not an issue, that’s obvious nonsense. We need to radically restrict inward movement to this country especially from virus hit spots.

    • steve
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      @Iain Gill

      “Advice from the scientists is apparently that incoming flights are not an issue, that’s obvious nonsense”

      Of course it’s nonsense, after all the ‘scientists’ wanted the virus here in the first place. They did NOT advise government to slam the borders firmly shut…which is what common sense dictates.

      Some day the truth will out.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      Which Scientists?

  55. Sea Warrior
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Did anyone else notice that the recent adjustment to the Chinese death toll was EXACTLY 50%?

    • Fred H
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      Somebody noticed the sceptical world comments on death figures. Maybe Martin rang the Embassy. They rang person responsible in Health Ministry ‘increase the death numbers – say 50% again’ – and thats what they did, as ordered.
      You have to laugh. A mere coincidence.?

      • Sea Warrior
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

        I can imagine that an order to ‘increase by half or so’ was obeyed by someone without the imagination to choose either 49% or 51%.

        • Ed M
          Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

          Great comment ..

  56. ToriesSavingTheUK
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    And still no UK stats on Recoveries.

    It’s amazing that almost every country can produce Recovery stats. Germany is even using the figure as an input to easing the lockdown. Why not us?

    • Know-Dice
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

      Probably because we haven’t done enough [any] testing of the general population to know what the heck is really going on…

      • Mark B
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 5:36 am | Permalink

        There speaks the truth. And it was obvious pretty much from the start that they all, experts especially, just did not have a clue.

  57. Weather or not
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Have Local Authorities tapped into their own Emergency Funds yet? A few years ago mine was well above £20m.
    Or is it the wrong kind of rainy day?

  58. Old person
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    The figures are indeed difficult to analyse for many reasons (eg incubation to recovery/death time).

    The UK (population 67.98m) had its first case on Jan 30, and using the ‘worldometer’ figures, there were:

    20319 deaths over 87 days, 233.55 deaths/day, 299.00 deaths/1M, 3.44 deaths/1M/day

    But these figures are misleading as most of the deaths occurred in this month of April.

    Taking the figures from Jan 30 to Mar 31:

    2915 deaths over 62 days, 47.02 deaths/day, 42.88 deaths/1M, 0.69 deaths/1M/day

    And the results for the first 25 days of this month are:

    17404 deaths over 25 days, 696.16 deaths/day, 256.02 deaths/1M, 10.24 deaths/1M/day

    And these results are after weeks of lock down. As there were 813 deaths on Apr 25, these figures will fail to show any improvement until the daily death toll falls by at least half.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

      The figures for total population in the U.K., how accurate are they? I have a feeling numbers in London and the South East in particular are much higher, the census isn’t due until 2021 and even these won’t include illegals.

    • rose
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

      Can you break them down into regions?

  59. Mark B
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Good afternoon.

    No-one has any idea how many people in the community have or have had CV 19.

    If you do not know scale of the problem, how on earth can you formulate policies and procedures to resolve it ?

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      The scale is unknowable. Unless you test every person every day. So, given that it is unknowable, you have to take a best guess and formulate policy accordingly. What would you do? Just have no policy?

      • Mark B
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 5:43 am | Permalink

        I would have looked at the results of the Exercise Cygnus and gone from there. But that is under the OSA, so no luck there.

        I would have ordered no one to be allowed into the UK from infected areas. I would have also made sure that all health and emergency and civil defence staff were tested as a priority. Then those most likely at risk. I would have ordered a partial lock down of all major towns and cities and not every village and rural community. But more importantly, I would have done all these things, and more, quickly and not sat on my ass dithering.

  60. outsider
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Dear Sir John,
    Is there, I wonder, a proper statistician on SAGE? At this stage strong statistical advice is as vital as the epidemiologist’s.

    • hefner
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      Prof. John Aston, HomeOffice Chief Scientific Officer, specialist in applied statistics,
      Ian Diamond, head of Govt Statistical Service, CEO of the UK Statistics Authority,
      and for No.10, Ben Warner, No.10 adviser on data science.

      • Caterpillar
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:42 pm | Permalink


        Yep, scary; what can this imply? Public is intentionally being fed guff, statisticians don’t get OR, no psychologically robust generalist to be able to construe the worldview of each specialist?
        There appears to be a wealth of specialist expertise and yet a public interface that consists of duff data, duff analysis, duff reason, no planning.
        There seems to be something seriously wrong.

      • Caterpillar
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:31 am | Permalink

        In the list I found I couldn’t see that Diamond was in SAGE. Aston, as you indicate, is a solid applied statistician with methodological interest in time series but his research focus is statistical neuroimaging and statistical linguistics. The dominant membership is biological, epidemiological etc with perhaps only Warner and Cummings to balance (if they are active). There does not seem to be a decision science or economics view at this stage to offer any framing or avoid group biases.
        One cannot help but feel nervous about the structuring of the advice stream.

  61. Owl on a rooftop
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    In the past week I have taken 5 funerals. This is far more than usual. I have another 3 booked for the coming weeks. Some of them are COVID funerals. My worry is how deaths are being recorded. I have had one where the person died of metastatic prostate cancer but he was also covid positive. He may well have died with pneumonia but he would have died anyway. Are the statistics sensitive to multiple causes of death? How many of the “20,000” died only of coronavirus? How many have died with underlying health issues? Are Governments around the world measuring the same things? If not, how can the data be trusted to make policy decisions. Wouldn’t the WHO make itself useful if it came up with common diagnostic criteria and a Common policy for recording causes of death so that The world’s data would be more transparent and useful for doctors and policy makers?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      What is recorded on the death certificate is open to all sorts of influences political and otherwise. The virus will have accelerated the death of an already sick patient or killed the person outright. The best figures to use is the increased death rate compared to normal for this time of year. In fact the figure is probably slightly higher than this (as cancelling other operations will have decreases other deaths). Though it will of course lower the future death rate for the next few years as many deaths have been clearly been accelerated.

      • Zorro
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

        It’s despicable isn’t it. How do you like the coverage of Hugh ‘the undertaker’ Pym?


      • a-tracy
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

        LL you keep repeating cancelling other operations will reduce death figures where is your evidence for this, people I know generally don’t die after they have operations and sadly I know a great number over people over the years that have had operations.

        • zorro
          Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

          Indeed, they tend to die because they didn’t have operations or their operations were cancelled!


          • Lifelogic
            Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

            Perhaps but later!

        • APL
          Posted April 27, 2020 at 11:18 am | Permalink

          a-tracy: “LL you keep repeating cancelling other operations will reduce death figures where is your evidence for this .. ”

          At least LL has stopped ‘banging on’ about ventilators.

          a-tracy: ” people I know generally don’t die after they have operations ”

          And some may die because their operation has been postponed.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

            The statistics show that when doctors & surgeons go on strike number of deaths tends to decrease. It is an affect seen in many countries that have had such strikes. Many people do die during or after operations even if the majority do not. True they may need the operation to survive longer term but deaths are generally accelerated by serious operations.

            When the strikes finish and the doctors go back to their works deaths tend to increase again.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

            Many examples of this:-

            Whenever medical doctors go on strike, a most interesting phenomenon occurs – death rates go down! In 1976 in Bogota, Columbia medical doctors went on strike for 52 days, with only emergency care available. The death rate dropped by 35%. In 1976 in Los Angeles County a similar doctors’ strike resulted in an 18% drop in mortality. As soon as the strike was over, the death rate went back to normal. A 50% decrease in mortality occurred in Israel in 1973 when there was a one month doctor’s strike!

          • Fred H
            Posted April 28, 2020 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

            LL – – were doctors required to certify death.
            Could be your answer?

  62. Mike Wilson
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think I give a toss about what other countries get up to. I am concerned about this country and the fact we have over 20,000 deaths. It still feels surreal to me. I know of no-one who has, or has had, the virus. I can’t help feeling that, sooner or later, we are going to have to emerge into the sunlight and go about our daily lives wearing masks, keeping our distance and washing our hands. The virus will have to do its worst.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      Not in New Zealand and Australia etc. They have pretty well eradicated the disease.

      Are you not interested in why this country so far has spectacularly failed to do that too?

      • Edward2
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

        Have you considered the density of population in Australia and New Zealand?

        • bill brown
          Posted April 27, 2020 at 1:55 am | Permalink

          Edward 2

          It has some thing to do with density but that explanation does not stand on its own look at the very different figures around Europe

          • Edward2
            Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

            I have but Martin keeps using the example of Australia and New Zealand.
            There are many factors that may be impacting the UKs figures compared to other nations.
            Age of population, male v female ratio, ethnic mix, obesity, homes of multiple occupancy, numbers living in crowded cities in relation to total population, general health of a population in terms of numbers who smoke or have diabetes, the effectiveness of a country’s health services and perhaps most importantly the statistical methods used by each country and the accuracy of those statistics.
            But for some like Martin it is an opportunity to try to make political points against the UK government.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted April 28, 2020 at 11:50 am | Permalink

            The main relevant factor in common between all the successful countries is that they are ruled by neither the English Tories nor by the US’s Trump, I think, Ed.

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

        I’m interested Martin. I wonder how many people from New Zealand and Australia went on February half term holidays to high case areas such as Lombardy and Spain?

        I wonder how many cruise ship passengers got off boats in the U.K. throughout February, March and April compared to the numbers departing cruise boats in NZ and Australia.

        I wonder how many people arrived in NZ and Australia from China in Jan & February compared to numbers in the U.K.

    • Mark B
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 5:47 am | Permalink

      People take off and land on aeroplanes every day of the week. You don’t hear much about it in the news. One crashes and many are killed. Its becomes front page news. Same with this. You only hear about the deaths, not the lives, like our PM and HRH The Prince of Wales, recovery. Hell, they have not even been recorded as recovered !

  63. Fred H
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    from BBC website.
    French police say they have seized 140,000 face masks destined for sale on the black market. Officers say they caught a businessman unloading the masks from a lorry into a house in St Denis, north of Paris. Last month, France requisitioned all stocks and production of face masks to equip health workers.

    Meanwhile in China, the authorities have confiscated 89m poor quality face masks. The country has faced criticism over poor quality exports. Officials had inspected nearly 16 million businesses and had also seized large quantities of ineffective disinfectant, government official Gan Lin said.

    and some on here thought it was going so well.

  64. Caterpillar
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Looking at the NHS England figures showing the actual date of death (
    the peak for deaths in England based on raw data was 8th April (seven day centred moving average gives 7th April).

    There are at least two possibilities from this;
    1) The peak of infections occurred about 6 to 20 days earlier than 8th April (the lower number based on the high number of elderly dying from infection, the upper number for younger, so probably closer to the lower number) i.e. England is at least 3 weeks past infection peak, or
    2) Deaths in community not in hospital are higher and peak is later (i.e. we don’t know what is happening / Govt is saying).

    Assuming (1) is correct then the Govt should already have a lockdown exit plan in place (using stratified testing, including different test types for different groups, and order of unlock so as to maximise economic value add per slight increase in R).

    The possible reasons for not being transparent on plan are

    (a) (1) above is wrong and (2) is correct
    (b) expectant fear (dare I say youngish cabinet ministers)
    (c) no ability.

  65. mancunius
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    “No-one has any idea how many people in the community have or have had CV 19.”
    But then, no one has any idea how many people there actually *are* in any community in the UK, nor where they live, nor their current whereabouts, nor anything at all about them, nor whether they have any right to be here, nor whether they pay any taxes at all.
    This is immensely generous of the government. On the other hand, it is our money they are being generous with, as they have none of their own.

    • mancunius
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      It also makes systematic testing in the UK as impossible as e.g. the obligatory carrying of ID cards and local residential registration for all residents in Germany makes it easy-peasy. Many in Britain have always felt queasy about such a registration idea as a risk to personal freedom, but how is that personal freedom thingy working out for us right now?

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        What are the objections to having ID cards or ID on a mobile phone?

  66. Ed M
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Good News!

    According to latest Worldmetres stats (yes, I appreciate all sorts of problems with these stats – however), cases and mortality rates for the virus have significantly dropped in:

    France, Germany, Spain, Italy, to a certain degree the UK (but we began after the others), and even the USA.

    • Ed M
      Posted April 26, 2020 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

      Let’s please ramp up: 1) TESTING, 2) SOCIAL-DISTANCING TECH + APPS, 3) PROTECTION OF OLD + VULNERABLE, and 4) PPE – and get people BACK TO WORK, SCHOOL + SHOPPING asap.

      • D Note
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

        The more they test the more the fatality rate drops to (well below that of seasonal flu), so the govt and media have no incentive to test unless we find out the truth and ….

  67. Richard Lark
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    I was hoping that an announcement of the easing of the lockdown was waiting for the return of the PM so that he would be the bearer of good news. I am incredibly disappointed by his statement this Monday.
    The number of deaths in England from Covid-19 as announced on 24th April was 18084. Of those 1592 (8.8%) were people under the age of 60 and 16492 (91.2%) were 60+. We need to know the following:-
    1. How many of the 1592 had underlying health conditions?
    2. What is the total number of deaths of people below 60 and how does it compare with previous years?

    The answer to those questions would help us decide whether to relax the measures for the under 60’s for the benefit of the whole economy.

  68. ed2
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Global governance is a very bad idea as nation-states act as a fire break against tyranny and bad laws. Can someone explain that very slowly and very clearly to the globalist fanatics? Have they studied history? Why do they think it will work out well this time? It hasnt even started well (we are all under house arrest).

  69. ed2
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    Oh and I was right, the ONS had been collecting deaths to create an artificial spike. Any chance of them having their independence back so they cannot be used for propaganda and deception again?

    • APL
      Posted April 28, 2020 at 6:55 am | Permalink

      ed2: “Oh and I was right, the ONS had been collecting deaths to create an artificial spike. ”

      It wouldn’t surprise me, but what grounds do you have for that assertion?

      I imagine there are literally hundreds of civil servants, scuttling around trying to justify the shutdown, while at the same time attempting to coverup the carnage in the state regulated, state maintained care homes.

  70. Not Bob
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    I do not see why the entire population of the UK has to put up with this because we have a FAKE PRETEND government who are simply following a script they have been given.

    Enough is enough. Send in the army.

  71. Not Bob
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    John, they are all little boys and you are the adult. Take control.

  • About John Redwood

    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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