In our desperation to end the Covid pandemic by wishing very hard, the UK seems to have decided on a method of fudging the data without actually lying. On top of leaving our numbers blank for days at a time, we’re now ignoring “New Deaths” that occurred on the days we didn’t update.
I used to be very rude about Sweden’s health authority, which masked its Covid mortality by doing this from the start – and now it seems we’re copying them! Here’s what I’m talking about:
Misleading without lying
When no “New Deaths” are recorded, it definitely doesn’t mean nobody died in the UK from Covid, only that we didn’t update.
More to the point, we are not adding the missed deaths to the next day’s “New Deaths”. This makes the headline figure – which is all most people see, including journalists – very misleading.
Because this kind of thing happened for an assortment of reasons when the pandemic was getting under way, I’ve always based these charts on the total deaths reported. I keep track of discrepancies, but they rarely seem worth highlighting. This latest change is a big development in the UK’s coronavirus reporting and, since we aren’t used to it, it will have escaped most people’s notice.
So how are we really doing in Little Britain, where the pandemic no longer exists?
Daily Covid deaths are the worst since Feb ’21
We’re losing an average 365 lives a day to Covid-19. It’s important to note that, even if the mystery extra 3,000 deaths include missed numbers from the previous month (unclear), we’re still looking at a significant hike in UK coronavirus mortality.
5 out of every 2,000 Brits are now dead thanks to this virus. That’s one in 396.
Some countries have done worse than us. Here’s the overall picture for our watched group:
Coronavirus has killed one in every 329 Americans. Italy and Belgium have not yet recovered from being hit hardest during the first phase of the pandemic. Spain, France and Portugal have done pretty well compared to the UK.
The most interesting comparisons are with Germany and the Netherlands.
Germany has a bigger population than ours and suffered as much resistance to infection controls – yet they’ve had far fewer Covid deaths than the UK. Maybe Germans had more common sense than their protestors suggested? Whatever the reasons, they’ve kept each other alive 60% better than us.
The Netherlands is as densely populated as England, with an equally strong attachment to individual freedom. Their infection control systems are sophisticated, with much more fine tuning than we’ve experienced, and it seems to work. The Dutch have kept each other alive nearly twice as well as we have in the UK.
Globally, the pandemic’s declining
While the world’s coronavirus mortality looks to be heading in an encouraging direction, things are going badly in much of Asia, Africa and parts of South America. Looking at our watched group of countries, some of the most successful – Denmark, Norway and Finland – are moving up the mortality chart. This being said, they’ve done so much better than everyone else that it would take a total disaster to knock them off their positions as some of the safest places to live during a pandemic.
These are recent snapshots of our watched group, comparing Covid mortality rates over the past six months to two weeks. Click to see full-size.
Clearly, we’d like to see everyone’s Covid mortality come down to the rates recently achieved by the Netherlands. In the UK, this would equate to 48 deaths per day. I still think that’s too high, but it’s a whole lot better than the 300-ish we’re currently experiencing.
We may well get there soon, with the weather improving and people spending more time outdoors. It’s hard to know what to expect this summer, as restrictions have been lifted and there’s a risk of Brits throwing caution (and their germs) to the wind. I’m as fed up of this as the next person, so my fingers are crossed for a good summer WITH plenty of masks and distancing!
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