More than half of Covid hospitalisations are patients who only tested positive after admission, leaked data reveal.
The figures suggest vast numbers are being classed as hospitalised by Covid when they were admitted with other ailments, with the virus picked up by routine testing.
Experts said it meant the national statistics, published daily on the government website and frequently referred to by ministers, may far overstate the levels of pressures on the NHS.
The leaked data – covering all NHS trusts in England – show that, as of last Thursday, just 44 per cent of patients classed as being hospitalised with Covid had tested positive by the time they were admitted.
…Prof Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, said: “This data is incredibly important, and it should be published on an ongoing basis.
“When people hear about hospitalisations with Covid, they will assume that Covid is the likely cause, but this data shows something quite different – this is about Covid being detected after tests were looking for it.”
Admissions have failed to sky-rocket – and it’s time ministers took their own advice about learning to live with the virus
The by now all-too-familiar vertiginous lines were intended to leave the public in no doubt about the consequences of not delaying freedom until July 19.
But take a closer look and the choice of graphs is arguably disingenuous: the slides are most revealing for what they failed to include.
Hospital admissions [in England] were down by 6.7 million (39%) on the year before, when we didn’t have a deadly pandemic.
By plunging London into a Tier Three lockdown, the Government is going to do terrible harm to the city, the entire national economy, and to millions of lives.
No one can predict the number of people who will lose jobs, suffer poor mental health or who will have life-saving operations postponed until too late.
All we can say with any certainty is that all these things will happen, and not to a few isolated people. The harms caused by these new restrictions, like those caused by the previous over-reactions, will be immense.
- The Government is withholding much of the information we need to draw our own conclusions about better ways to handle the crisis.
- The weekly average number of Covid deaths in the capital is just over a tenth of what it was at its peak in April.
- Weekly average Covid admissions to London’s hospitals are a quarter of what were in the spring.
- The [UK Government’s] obsession with secrecy is not intended to hide the facts from enemy agents but from us, the general public.
- This disease is not like Spanish flu, or the plague. It does not sweep away young and old indiscriminately. In fact, many younger people – now more likely to catch Covid – will have it without even being aware. They will be infected but not affected.
- The average age of people dying with a Covid infection is 82 years and four months – 14 months more than the average life expectancy in Britain.
- In November the total number of deaths in London was very little different to the average over the past five years.
- Covid is a respiratory virus that spreads on the wind. Just look at the leaves blowing around – that’s what viral particles do when we walk past each other.
- Cloth or woven paper masks are no barrier to this tiny virus either, as shown by the world’s only controlled study, from Denmark, which found that they only made a small, ‘non-statistically-significant’ difference.
While the testing data are so opaque, using them to direct local lockdowns is unhelpful, argues Heneghan. “The testing is there to drive the test and trace strategy,” he says. “But what seems to be happening is that, as soon as we see an outbreak, there tends to be panic and over-reacting. This is a huge problem because politicians are operating in a non-evidence-based way when it comes to non-drug interventions.”