A journey towards transparency?

We have known for a while now that the reported daily ‘hospital deaths’ figure was not a true representation of total deaths for the country. Now that the Office for National Statistics and their Scottish and Northern Irish equivalents are publishing the total death statistics, albeit with an 11 day lag, we are beginning to get a clearer picture of what is unfolding in the UK as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. It is also very good that data was presented at yesterday’s daily briefing regarding Covid-19 deaths outside of hospitals (care homes, hospices, home and other). However, we are still not being told the whole story yet. I will try and explain why.

Following the daily briefing the Government publishes the charts presented along with a spreadsheet containing the data which makes up the charts. Yesterday two new charts were shown: ‘All weekly registered deaths from COVID-19 compared with deaths in hospital (UK)’ and ‘Provisional weekly registered deaths from COVID-19 in England and Wales by place of occurrence’. Unfortunately, the data making up these charts are not included in the accompanying spreadsheet so at this point I have had to estimate the numbers by reading them off the y axis – they are thus approximate figures.

The UK wide chart tells us that in the week ending 17th April around 9,500 people died from Covid-19, of these 5,600 died in hospital and around 3,900 died in care homes, hospices, at home and at other locations.

However, we also know from the UK wide data that in the week ending 17th April, the UK death rate was 12,500 above the seasonally adjusted average. Direct Covid-19 deaths accounted for 9,500 people which leaves a further 3,000 people apparently having died that week from indirect Covid-19 impacts, which is 24% of the total.

At this point in time these 3,000 deaths are not included in the daily briefing figures and additionally we don’t know what their causes of death are. Some may have died of Covid-19 but it is not recorded on their death certificate, it is also possible that these 3,000 people have died of other causes such as cancer, heart attacks, strokes, suicide etc. At this point we have no idea. This group of 3,000 people are over and above the seasonally adjusted average – so they are ‘excess’ deaths, they are indirect Covid-19 deaths, these people would not have died if we had not had a Covid-19 outbreak.

With regards to care home in Great Britain the ONS and Scottish data appears to suggest that of the excess deaths in care home during the week ending 17th April, approximately 2,200 people died from Covid-19 and around 2,800 people died from other causes – 56% of the total.

 

Trying to make sense of all this data and collating it to give a UK picture is a fiendishly difficult task Indeed it would appear that the Government are struggling with this. The hospital deaths chart for the UK states that in the week ending 17th April 5,600 people died in hospitals, whereas the England and Wales graphs states that for the same period 6,100 people died in hospital. Can we even believe the data we are being presented with?

And remember these figures relate to the situation 12 days ago. The implication of all of this is that it is more than likely that approaching 50,000 people have already died from the direct and indirect results of Covid-19 and not 21,678.

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “A journey towards transparency?

  1. Why do deaths have to be registered in order to be counted? Surely there is a time lag between the signed death certificate and registration? Why aren’t doctors able to advise by email or other means to the ONS on a daily basis so that there is a true figure of deaths from covid 19 everyday? This is what I do not understand and why perhaps the government is ever so cautious about discussing the easing of the lockdown because of unreliable daily data of the true picture.

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