This Government has not displayed the surest of touches when it comes to presenting any kind of statistical evidence relating to the Coronavirus pandemic. The attempted - and failed - sleight of hand over testing numbers was bad enough, but presentation of the numbers dying with Covid-19 has been of a magnitude worse. Only through the careful analysis of those at the FT have we seen the full picture.
The first sign of the latest move came on Friday, as free sheet Metro told readers “Health Secretary Matt Hancock has reportedly called for an urgent review into the way Public Health England (PHE) counts coronavirus deaths. A scientist has realised PHE is ‘over-exaggerating’ the daily coronavirus death toll because it counts people as victims if they die of any cause at any time after testing positive for Covid-19”. There was more.
But then came news from the Independent that the Government had gone further: “The UK government has halted the publication of the daily number of coronavirus deaths over concerns that ‘statistical flaws’ might be rendering the data inaccurate … The pause in publication was decided by the Department of Health and Social Care after the health secretary, Matt Hancock, ordered a review into the figures”. That is worrying.
As the Observer has reported today, “The health secretary, Matt Hancock, has bowed to pressure from councils, which demanded full access to the names and data of people in their areas who tested positive for Covid-19, and those with whom they have been in contact, in another major government U-turn”. What better way to have the electorate looking over there than to claim that headline data is The One Wot Done It.
Then we are told it will all be over by Christmas. But which year is not told.