Nine out a 10 people in England live in areas that have not seen a Covid-19 case in a month and new lockdowns are not needed, an expert has said.
Professor John Clancy, from Birmingham University, has warned that fears of another shutdown are based on ‘dodgy data.’
Writing in a blog, he said: ”91 per cent of England (that’s 51million people) live in neighbourhoods where there hasn’t been a recorded Covid-19 case in the last 4 weeks.’
He added: ‘So-called ‘spikes’ are occurring here, there, and everywhere up and down the country because new testing regimes are causing them either with false positives, picking up residual infections or (usually more likely) suddenly increased testing in specific areas.’
CORONAVIRUS hospital admissions were over-counted at the peak of the pandemic as recovered patients returning to wards without Covid were included in the stats.
An investigation for the Government’s Science Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) found that people were being counted as ‘Covid hospital admissions’ if they had EVER had the virus.
Government figures show that, at the peak of the pandemic in early April, nearly 20,000 people a week were being admitted to hospital with coronavirus – but the true figure is now unknown because of the problem with over-counting.
This over-counting mirrors the problems with data for coronavirus deaths – where people who had died of other causes were being included in Covid-19 statistics if they had once tested positive.
Professor Graham Medley, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, asked by Sage to look into the situation, told The Telegraph: “By June, it was becoming clear that people were being admitted to hospital for non-Covid reasons who had tested positive many weeks before.
“Consequently, the NHS revised its situation report to accommodate this.”
We have consistently (and I’d say flagrantly) over-estimated the threat of Covid-19, starting with the absurd prediction of 500,000 deaths by Imperial College London’s Professor Neil Ferguson. Data experts who later reviewed the computer code used in the professor’s model described it as “a mess which would get you fired in private industry”…
The trashing of the economy, the worst recession in our history, avoidable deaths at home with people too frightened to go to hospital for fear of catching the virus, chaos in education, the explosion in domestic violence, steep rises in anxiety, depression, and heavy drinking?
No. Lockdown will come to be seen as one of the most catastrophic misjudgments a British government has ever made.
A review of how deaths from coronavirus are counted in England has reduced the UK death toll by more than 5,000, to 41,329, the government has announced.
The new methodology for counting deaths means the total number of people in the UK who have died from Covid-19 comes down from 46,706 to 41,329 – a reduction of 12%.
- A review will examine reports that officials were “over-exaggerating” the number of deaths from coronavirus.
- On July 17, the Health Secretary asked PHE to urgently investigate the way daily death statistics had been reported, leading PHE to say it was “pausing” the daily release.
- Under the previous system, anyone who has ever tested positive for the virus in England was automatically counted as a coronavirus death when they died, even if the death was from a car accident.
- Weekly rather than daily counts could help improve accuracy for future death counts, but could also make it harder to draw comparisons in the event of a second wave of the virus.
- Prof Carl Heneghan, director at Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, has called for a cut-off period for the way the death toll is calculated in England of 21 days.
- Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, reportedly holds the view that excess deaths are the best measure to use, which will be unaffected by the PHE review.
- Public Health England was miscounting coronavirus death, official review found.
- Could see up to 4,000 deaths removed from England’s official toll of 41,749, or 10 per cent.
- Ministers count victims as anyone who died after ever testing positive for Covid-19 — even if they were hit by a bus after beating the disease months later.
- The statistical flaw was uncovered by Oxford University’s Professor Carl Heneghan and Dr Yoon Loke, from the University of East Anglia.
- The Office for National Statistics, another Government agency, also records Covid-19 deaths, and is considered the most reliable source.
- The ONS — which is not affected by the counting method — has confirmed at least 51,596 people have died in England and Wales up to July 24.
- Around 58 Brits are now succumbing to the life-threatening infection each day, on average.
- The deaths data does not represent how many Covid-19 patients died within the last 24 hours — it is only how many fatalities have been reported and registered with the authorities.
- Department of Health bosses say 820 Britons are now being struck down with the life-threatening virus every day, on average. The rate has been rising since dropping to a four-month low of 546 on July 8.
- The number of patients being admitted to hospital has yet to spike, bolstering claims from top scientists that the outbreak is not getting worse and cases are only rising because more patients are being tested.
- Just 109 coronavirus patients were admitted for NHS care across the UK on August 2 — a figure which has barely changed throughout July. During the darkest days of Britain’s crisis in April, around 3,500 patients were needing hospital treatment every day.
• There was “massive confusion” about different Covid data between England’s health bodies. “Public Health England figures are about double the ONS figures because PHE are reporting anybody who has had a positive Covid death in the past… This will get increasingly confusing as we go into the next Winter because there could be a new outbreak and new deaths while also still reporting on historical deaths… This is a problem for epidemiologists and media… ”
• Even a “28 period cut-off is still not ideal for accurate death numbers because there is “immediate cause and underlying cause… Immediate cause means you’ve had Covid within 21 days but outside of that, it becomes the underlying cause — something that contributed to your death but wasn’t a direct cause. A 21 day cut-off would be helpful because it gives a clearer understanding of that distinction”
• “We follow excess deaths which is the most accurate information about what’s going on at that moment, but it can’t tell you what those deaths are caused by” (i.e. people not coming forward with heart attacks etc)
• “There’s an important distinction between lives lost and life years lost. One of the things we’ll be watching very closely over the next six months is how many people would have actually died in the next six months… That’s where the excess deaths really matter. If we start to see it trend significantly under for the next few months, we’ll start to come forward with information that suggests there was a group of vulnerable people that any respiratory infection would have shortened their life.”
• “In the media you’ll always hear about catastrophe and the consequences of that. One of the things we notice is that when you don’t hear anything that usually means there’s good news happening. So when Sweden looks worse you hear about it but when it’s not so bad, like now, you never see it in the media.”
Here, it seems that PHE regularly looks for people on the NHS database who have ever tested positive, and simply checks to see if they are still alive or not. PHE does not appear to consider how long ago the COVID test result was, nor whether the person has been successfully treated in hospital and discharged to the community. Anyone who has tested COVID positive but subsequently died at a later date of any cause will be included on the PHE COVID death figures.
By this PHE definition, no one with COVID in England is allowed to ever recover from their illness. A patient who has tested positive, but successfully treated and discharged from hospital, will still be counted as a COVID death even if they had a heart attack or were run over by a bus three months later.
The UK operational false positive rate is unknown. There are no published studies on the operational false positive rate of any national COVID-19 testing programme.
An attempt has been made to estimate the likely false-positive rate of national COVID-19 testing programmes by examining data from published external quality assessments (EQAs) for RT-PCR assays for other RNA viruses carried out between 2004-2019 . Results of 43 EQAs were examined, giving a median false positive rate of 2.3% (interquartile range 0.8-4.0%).
Alistair Haimes interpreted these results in this way:
2.3% false positive rate with 0.04% virus prevalence rate (ONS) means that if you test positive you have only a 4/234= 1.7% chance of being infected. We’re flying blind.@AlistairHaimes. 3 July 2020
if the false positive rate is that high, surely they just know that it is ‘about nothing’; 0.04% must be false precision?
HIQA found that the officially-reported COVID-19 deaths likely overestimates the true burden of excess deaths caused by the virus. This could be due to the inclusion within official figures of people who were infected with SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) at the time of death whose cause of death may have been predominantly due to other factors.
The Recovery trial has steadfastly ignored Professor Didier Raoult and a string of countries that have implemented his protocol, early use of HCQ with Azythromycin in safe doses, despite the fact that, after treating 3,737 patients — the single largest study in the world —Raoult has lost only 0.6 per cent, while Horby and Landray are presiding over carnage —a fatality rate of 25 per cent.
- The Recovery trial has steadfastly ignored Professor Didier Raoult in the early use of HCQ with Azythromycin in safe doses.
- Raoult has lost only 0.6 per cent, while Horby and Landray are presiding over carnage —a fatality rate of 25 per cent.
- Landray admitted to an investigative journalist at FranceSoir ‘these are quite high doses to… have a chance of killing the virus.’ Or killing the patient.
- Recovery is not the only trial delivering dangerously elevated doses of HCQ to Covid patients. Dosage in the international Solidarity trial was four times greater than the dose being used in India.
- WHO has been working for years with Gilead Sciences trying to get the pharmaceutical company’s lacklustre drug Remdesivir to show efficacy at curing first Ebola, with poor results, and now Covid-19.
- Landray revealed Gilead pays scientists 20 to 50 times more to conduct a clinical trial than Horby and Landray were paid to conduct the Recovery trial.
- Horby is the executive director of the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium which received 4.5 million pounds for research into vaccines.
- Horby established the Epidemic Research Group which is promised up to 14 million pounds from AstraZeneca and Zuckerberg/Chan of Facebook fame for the development of a Covid-19 vaccine which is being trialled by Oxford University.
- AstraZeneca is interested in merging with Gilead Sciences, which, if it went through, would create the biggest Big Pharma ever.
- Horby and Landray have announced that dexamethasone, a low-cost steroid which is also being tested has reduced the mortality rate of Covid-19 patients on ventilators from a scandalous 41 per cent to a still appalling 32 per cent.
- Raoult has pointed out that in his hospital, of the 0.6 per cent who die, a mere 16 per cent were in ICU
- In Britain, where almost 42,000 people have died of Covid, the only thing randomised, controlled trials have achieved, is to blind people to the evidence that 40,000 of those deaths could have been avoided.
- Far from following the science, the government turned its back on all available data.
- Until mid-April, with the escalating deaths in care homes agonisingly clear across Europe, government policy was still for patients to be discharged to care homes from hospitals without requiring negative tests. And so the toll: around half of UK Covid-19 deaths are care home residents, despite them accounting for only 0.6 per cent of our population.
- Germany, whose population is roughly 25 per cent bigger than ours, has suffered approximately a quarter of our Covid deaths.
- Ministers have deferred to scientists who themselves deferred to the projections of models, even when data on the ground told a completely different story.
- Statisticians on social media had a field day pointing out the chasm between modelled outcomes and reality, but it is not clear that the models on which SAGE relied (both their input parameters and mechanical dynamics) were continually refined with on-the-ground data (or simply discarded as wrong).
- Why weren’t Oxford’s team, who specialise in zoonotic viruses and who looked at the same data as Neil Ferguson’s modelling-led team but came to wildly different conclusions, on SAGE’s panel to provide an alternative view?
- Why were there no economists on SAGE? Economics is not the bloodless pursuit of money but the science of decision-making under uncertainty where resources are finite; could they really have brought nothing to the party?
- In mid-March, Stanford’s Nobel laureate Michael Levitt (biophysicist and professor of structural biology) discussed the “natural experiment” of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, a petridish disproportionately filled with the most susceptible age and health groups. Even here, despite the virus spreading uncontrolled onboard for at least two weeks, infection only reached a minority of passengers and crew.
- The data towards the end of March clearly showed we were already near the tipping point of the bell-curve (meaning the disease is on the wane). We were already past the point where lockdown could have made much difference.
- Knut Wittkowski: “respiratory diseases [including Covid-19] . . . remain only about two months in any given population”.
The way the data are analysed and presented currently gives them limited value for the first purpose [of understanding the epidemic]. The aim seems to be to show the largest possible number of tests, even at the expense of understanding. It is also hard to believe the statistics work to support the testing programme itself. The statistics and analysis serve neither purpose well.
So as you read, in coming weeks, furious news stories about technical incompetence, citizen non-compliance, threats of stricter enforcement and blame in all directions, as if everything was hanging on the latest government policy, remember the humility of scientists instead of the solipsism of the political class. Yes, the Government action plan will most likely be ineffective, but politicians were never in charge of this anyway. It’s bigger than they are — the best they could ever hope to do is tinker around the edges. Coronavirus is nobody’s ‘fault’.
As an NHS doctor, I’ve seen people die and be listed as a victim of coronavirus without ever being tested for it. But unless we have accurate data, we won’t know which has killed more: the disease or the lockdown?
It matters greatly for two main reasons. First, if we vastly overestimate deaths from Covid-19, we will greatly underestimate the harm caused by the lockdown. This issue was looked at in a recent article published in the BMJ, The British Medical Journal. It stated: “Only a third of the excess deaths seen in the community in England and Wales can be explained by Covid-19.
If Covid-19 killed 30,000, and lockdown killed the other 30,000, then the lockdown was a complete and utter waste of time. and should never happen again. The great fear is that this would be a message this government does not want to hear – so they will do everything possible not to hear it.
Currently, over 8 per cent of people who were tested in ‘pillar two’ have been told that their test result is ‘unclear’. Pillar two is the strand of the government’s testing strategy that deals with at-home tests and those carried out at drive-through centres. This pillar is designed for certain key workers and those who have been randomly selected for testing.
Yet the NHS instructions given to Sarah make clear that while the test might be ‘uncomfortable’, patients should stop if they ‘feel strong resistance or pain’. In other words, she was told to stop swabbing if it hurt. The tests may be accurate in a clinical setting but the problem comes when people are expected to try to carry out the procedure themselves in the real world.
It was the worst winter on record for more than 40 years, with the 1975-76 season being the last time deaths climbed so high above the expected levels.
The NHS was rocked by a record winter crisis in early 2018, with a massive rise in flu cases and sub-zero temperatures triggered by the Beast from the East storm, which added further to death rates.
“The number of excess winter deaths in England and Wales in 2017 to 2018 was the highest recorded since the winter of 1975 to 1976,” said Nick Stripe, from the ONS Health Analysis and Life Events team.”
The way in which we code deaths in our country is very generous in the sense that all the people who die in hospitals with the coronavirus are deemed to be dying of the coronavirus […] On re-evaluation by the National Institute of Health, only 12 per cent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus, while 88 per cent of patients who have died have at least one pre-morbidity – many had two or three,
Commentary from Off-Guardian:
Italian death toll figures could have been artificially inflated by up to 88%. If true, this would mean the total number of Italians who have actually died of Covid19 could be as low as ~700. Which would bring Italy, currently a statistical outlier in terms of Covid19 fatalities, well in line with the rest of the world.