Sunday, November 29, 2020
Home COVID-19 You only die twice: How the virus figures are fudged

You only die twice: How the virus figures are fudged

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THE decision to lock us down again is based heavily on the claim that the NHS is about to be overwhelmed. And that, in turn, is based on the figures for Covid hospital cases, Covid hospital admissions and Covid deaths. However, those numbers are not as accurate as they should be. 

Let’s imagine a man called Fred who has been unlucky enough to be run over by a bus. Fred is rushed to an English hospital with multiple injuries and, on admission, he is routinely tested for Covid. His test is negative so, quite rightly, he doesn’t count as a Covid admission or a Covid patient. 

Two weeks later, Fred is still in hospital and, at this point, he has another routine Covid test, which comes back positive, although he has absolutely no symptoms of the disease.  

Although Covid is not the reason he is in hospital, he now counts as a Covid patient and is added to the official count of people in hospital with the virus.  

Amazingly, Fred also now counts as a Covid admission because, in England, ‘in-patients diagnosed with Covid-19 after admission are reported as being admitted on the day prior to their diagnosis’.  

So Fred’s previous time in hospital is ignored and he is counted as if he had been admitted the day before his test result, which is totally misleading. In particular, it gives the impression that he caught Covid in the community and ignores the spread of Covid within the hospital setting. 

Two weeks later, Fred is well enough to go home. He has still had no symptoms of Covid, so he is considered to be fully recovered and doesn’t need to self-isolate.  

However, a week after that, he goes out for a walk and is run over by another bus. This time his injuries are more severe and he dies in the ambulance.  

It is quite obvious that his death is from severe trauma with severe stupidity as a contributory cause. However, his positive test was less than 28 days ago, so he officially counts as a Covid death. 

That is in direct contravention of the World Health Organisation guidelines which state that Covid-19 should not be recorded as a cause of death if ‘there is a clear alternative cause of death that cannot be related to Covid disease (e.g. trauma)’.  

The same guidelines also state that there should be no period of complete recovery from Covid-19 between illness and death – a requirement that is breached by using the 28-day period routinely for everyone, when most people are fully recovered in 14 days. 

Whether or not Fred’s death is included in the Office for National Statistics count of Covid deaths will depend on what the doctor certifying his death writes down.  

If the doctor doesn’t know about the positive test, he or she won’t mention it and Fred won’t be part of the ONS statistics on Covid. But if the doctor has heard about the test and decides to put Covid as a contributing cause on Fred’s death certificate, he will feature in the ONS statistics for Covid deaths – again in contravention of the WHO guidelines. 

Obviously, Fred’s case is an extreme example, but the problems it illustrates are real. People already in hospital are being counted as new admissions, infections caught in hospital are being confused with infections caught in the community and the much-quoted death toll is counting people dying with Covid rather than people dying of Covid.  

All these issues tend to exaggerate the numbers, which are then used to justify heavy-handed restrictions that may not really be needed. The big question is why is the Government and its advisers are allowing this to happen. 

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Diana Kimpton
Diana Kimpton is a maths graduate and an author. She specialises in writing about horses and numbers, but not usually at the same time.

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