AT present, BBC News seems to be reinforcing the government’s message, reporting death statistics and infection rates that misrepresent the data, together with the trends of the diseases. As an example, the death rates being quoted are the reported daily deaths, which are not when an individual died. This paints a skewed picture of the actual daily death rate, with the apparent death rate significantly exceeding the actual trend – the date of reported death suggests a pattern of rapidly increasing deaths when the data includes deaths that occurred, in some cases, months in the past. Using the date of recorded death shows a trend that is level and not increasing at the rates experienced in March.
Reference to the work completed by Professor Carl Heneghan at the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University shows the progression of the virus has resulted in marginal increases in the death rate since the end of the first wave when compared with recorded respiratory deaths from flu infections over previous years – none of this work has been reported by the BBC. It’s also worth noting that the current death rate from Covid is less than that of flu deaths in the 1990s, prior to introduction of flu vaccine in 2000.
The data presented in daily BBC bulletins captures the positive Covid test rates as a measure of the progression of the disease. Reference to CEBM’s data suggests that a more representative measure of virus transmission trends should be based upon the specimen test date i.e. recorded date of test, not the reported test date, to attain a better understanding of progression of the virus. This method of reporting takes better account of when the test was taken to manage fluctuation in reporting date.
Reporting the daily reported cases in the current manner is misrepresentative and alarmist, creating an air of panic in the population. The CEBM research demonstrates through the use of the available data that the predicted exponential growth of the infection is not being realised for the ‘second wave’. The specimen recorded rates of infection show a slow increase in infection rates, in lieu of the current data of the reported positive test infection rates.
What the BBC do not report is the poor accuracy of the PCR test used by the government to test for Covid, as discussed in The Conservative Woman. With the relatively low concentration of Covid in the population, the test has a significant false positive rate, again skewing the trends of the disease. Additionally, the test can record other coronavirus strains, dead Covid cells, asymptomatic Covid etc.
Professor Heneghan’s Oxford team have highlighted the poor accuracy rate of the PCR test, which changed some aspects of the testing approach by government, but none of their work has been presented in the mainstream news by the BBC.
It’s apparent that hospital admissions are increasing, but again the information stated in BBC bulletins does not represent the information published on the NHS website. BBC reports currently suggest that there are around 500 daily hospital admissions, but not that are also about 200 daily discharges, i.e. there is an approximate increase of circa 300 net. Also in a normal winter cycle the NHS expect around 1,000 daily admissions for respiratory illness – not widely reported but buried in a BBC web article.
The misreporting isn’t confined to the BBC. I understand ITV reported that the NHS hospital in Blackpool had run out of Covid beds. It had – the eight Covid-allocated beds out of the hospital’s total of 748 had gone to Covid patients.
The impact of the continued lockdown on the economy and on mental health, deaths from treatable and chronic diseases is being massively overlooked when compared with the impact of Covid on a small percentage of the population. Daily deaths from cancer and the lack of treatment of these and chronic patients will far outstrip the deaths from Covid. Again, this impact is not being reported or addressed in a balanced way.
The BBC have a duty to present all the facts and information, to promote debate, to challenge the science and consequent decisions that will have a profound effect on the population, economy and health now, and in the future.
This article first appeared on News-watch on October 12, 2020, and is republished by kind permission.