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Operational Research, Viewpoint!

People get fed “number theatre” in the daily Covid19 press briefings.

If you want to understand the risks associated with Covid19, it’s well worth watching Professor David Spiegelhalter on the Andrew Marr show this morning.

Starts at 46 minutes:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000j4vd/the-andrew-marr-show-10052020

Here’s a summary:

Infection Fatality Rate <1%, implies at least 3.5M people in the UK infected with the virus but it could be double that or even half the population.

Excess deaths 4 weeks to 24/4 nearly double the norm (79k vs 42k). Only 27k have CV19 on the death certificate. That leaves ~3k deaths per week “unexplained”. Many have been attributed to the disruption to the healthcare system – deaths happening out of hospitals that we wouldn’t have expected at this time of year. More than half the deaths in Care Homes are not being labeled as CV19; people not going to hospitals for treatment.

How scared should we be?

This is turning from a societal threat into risk management. People’s anxiety should be proportional to the risks they actually face.

2 out of 10M under-15s have died of CV19. Talk of “protecting our children” is a bit of a delusion.

26 out of 17M under-25s have died of CV19 – the same risk as a couple of days of general accidents and sudden death. It is completely trivial.

More than 1% of the over-90s have died of CV19. That is 10,000 times the risk for younger people.

The daily press briefings are completely embarrassing. Not trustworthy communication of statistics. A missed opportunity. People get fed “number theatre”.

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