Prof Carl Heneghan: can we trust the Covid-19 death numbers?
The Oxford epidemiologist has uncovered some worrying things about the way the data is recorded
Professor Carl Heneghan is Director of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University, and has been paying close attention to the Covid-19 statistics. In a post yesterday evening he revealed an extraordinary detail: the Public Health England daily death totals announced to the media include anyone who has ever tested positive for Covid-19 — even if they recovered completely.
Earlier this week we completed a wide-ranging interview with Professor Heneghan and his CEBM colleague Tom Jefferson on the current state of the Covid-19 pandemic, which we’ll be publishing shortly.
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But I caught up with Prof Heneghan this morning just to hear more about this latest development. Have a watch.
- There was “massive confusion” about different Covid data between England’s health bodies. “Public Health England figures are about double the ONS figures because PHE are reporting anybody who has had a positive Covid death in the past… This will get increasingly confusing as we go into the next Winter because there could be a new outbreak and new deaths while also still reporting on historical deaths… This is a problem for epidemiologists and media… ”
- Even a “28 period cut-off is still not ideal for accurate death numbers because there is “immediate cause and underlying cause… Immediate cause means you’ve had Covid within 21 days but outside of that, it becomes the underlying cause — something that contributed to your death but wasn’t a direct cause. A 21 day cut-off would be helpful because it gives a clearer understanding of that distinction”
- “We follow excess deaths which is the most accurate information about what’s going on at that moment, but it can’t tell you what those deaths are caused by” (i.e. people not coming forward with heart attacks etc)
- “There’s an important distinction between lives lost and life years lost. One of the things we’ll be watching very closely over the next six months is how many people would have actually died in the next six months… That’s where the excess deaths really matter. If we start to see it trend significantly under for the next few months, we’ll start to come forward with information that suggests there was a group of vulnerable people that any respiratory infection would have shortened their life.”
- “In the media you’ll always hear about catastrophe and the consequences of that. One of the things we notice is that when you don’t hear anything that usually means there’s good news happening. So when Sweden looks worse you hear about it but when it’s not so bad, like now, you never see it in the media.”
I don’t think any rational person has trusted the numbers at any time. (One should never trust any numbers issued by any form of authority).
That said, even I am slightly shocked by the fact that even if people recover completely from Civid and then die, they are listed as a Covid death.
There is no doubt in my mind that the UK death statistics are hugely inflated and inaccurate which doesn’t help anyone when planning for the future. Even looking at the ONS weekly death report is worrying when looking at the reporting of covid and pneumonia. The pneumonia rate is several ‘000’s below the average and the reporting is “pneumonia” “or “covid” or “both”. If it’s both it’s recorded as covid. The evidence suggests that the excess deaths are inflated currently by pulling those who would die in the in the next few months i to the current spike. Even the ONS suggest we should expect a significant run of below average excess deaths in the near term. I could quote many anecdotal incidents of covid on a care home death certificate where the family (one a doctor himself!) said without any fear of mistake it wasn’t covid. The disparity in international reporting is almost beyond parody with Germany a case in point. There is a view that if the UK (and others for that matter) reported in the same way as Germany the death figures would be broadly similar (i.e. in the <10,000 range). Finally on the media…..we are subjected to gotcha journalism of the worst kind which does no-one any good. Bad news or a politician on the rack is good news as far as the broadcast media is concerned and print media is driven by political agenda at a level that is dangerous.
Spot on as ever, Douglas. Thanks for this.
Who else watches these videos for Freddie’s open-neck shirted, chisel-jawed film-star looks? Asking for a female friend…
The BBC ran a video a month or so ago comparing excess deaths for an 8 week period in UK, France and Italy. What they didn’t say is where they got their numbers from.. However it didn’t look great with the alarming figure of 54% increase excess deaths* in the UK over expected.
What that doesn’t tell you is that it represents excess of 0.0007% during
*8 week period during pandemic per above
that’s 2/13 of a year – if whole year was as bad (which it isn’t) times numbers by 6.5 for full year estimate. Then 945,866 – 614,854 gives 331,012 EXCESS ANNUAL deaths which is 0.0049% of population. The Prof. says the excess deaths is less now, could this be because a proportion of very ill people have died already?
Perhaps the answer to this mask nonsense is simple. We simply do not partonise shops which insist on mask wearing. I understand Lidl has said they will not enforce mask wearing so buy your food there. The other shops will soon wake up as their business declines. Why should shops put their staff in the awkward and possibly dangerous position of enforcing stupid government regulations.
Well done, Lidl. They’re probably in breach of the law, but I hope someone senior in management tells whoever complains to sue them.
Thanks. Regarding the final sentence – “No news is good news” also in this hypermedialised (correct?) world!
I’ve looked upon excess death figures and is intrigued by the Z-value. How should that be understood.
As a Swede I also have difficulties to understand US media reports the latest weeks. What are thea after? Getting political points from haressing a country with 10m, mostly well-spread-out inhabitants? I think they have made the same initial errors as us, but not made much corrective actions since. Except over-relying on the effects of massive lockdown (which probably was necessary in New York when i took place, but not so much elsewhere.
Sweden did brilliantly. Care home deaths hit all western countries including Germany in Bavaria. Italy and Spain did not account for the 1000,s of home and care home deaths prior to late April. France only recorder death exclusively from covid. Think UK Death certificates came with covid preprinted on them. Joke!! So many complaints from people who resented a relatives death being recorderd as covid when they knew it was not. 2 herd immunity advocats in USA actually said doctors were being pressured to record deaths as covid.
Its what happens when people try to use a pandemic to remove an elected government.
Or rather Denmark did brilliantly.
Denmark is forecast to suffer less economic damage than Sweden and has approximately 600 deaths compared to Sweden’s 5600.
“Its what happens when people try to use a pandemic to remove an elected government.” This, of course, is something which has happened very frequently and is well documented and researched. Hmmmmm…
It would have been far easier if she had claimed asylum in Sweden – and that’s the real problem, that intra-non-White wars are seen as somehow minor, not real, that not being White makes it all, somehow, OK, or (and this has happened) the fault being that of the west. In Germany an Islamic State terrorist was placed alongside a Yazidi sex slave, who recognised the terrorist, and the Germans didn’t know how to react, they didn’t see the war as ‘real’ in the sense of attackers and victims, instead, everyone was a victim, and, referring back here, ‘home’ and ‘away’ were all the same, and all are victims.
Begum will never leave the UK because she does not hold citizenship of another country to which she can go. Sayid Javid was always on shaky legal ground in attempting to rely on Begum’s alleged entitlement to a Bangladeshi passport, assuming she would ever apply for one, and assuming Bangladesh would ever give her one: two very big ifs. To purport to strip a person of citizenship when they have no alternative citizenship has long been held to breach international law, because it would create a stateless person. Hard lines in Begum’s case, but there it is. Welcome home Ms Begum, and BTW you’re under arrest.
I am intrigued to see data on life years lost; based on the assumption that you can’t save a life, you can only extend it. Anyone who has even a passing interest in health economics (the two cannot be separated despite attempts by the media to prioritise health over wealth) will be aware of the term “Quality Adjusted Life Year” (QALY). It is the fundamental measuring unit when calculating what budget should be attributed to any given treatment. Bizarrely, I haven’t seen any reference to this metric at any stage throughout the pandemic.
There have been three criminal acts in this pandemic. This is one.
The second is the lockdown of the world causing such economic carnage that it is highly likely more people will die from the economic consequences than the virus
The third was the government not protecting the vulnerable in care homes and those receiving care in the community which has been responsible for 27,000 plus deaths
Even worse than that : remove the deaths by incompetance and you come to around 20k BUT at the start 80% of people on ventilators died because it was the wrong treatment, the ICU death rate for Covid is a tenth of what it was. This means we have “true” deaths of 2000 if doctors,politicians and care homes all worked together in a competant manner from day 1. That 2000 figure is slightly higher than ONE DAYS normal death rate for everything!
The whole thing is a complete fraud. In the US, a guy in his 20s who died in a motorbike accident was listed as a Covid death. Essentially, the whole thing is a scam in which public employees get paid to stay at home and do nothing, while those who work in the productive sector are wiped out.
If you are correct, and I do not doubt your sincerity, there will be ” trouble” ahead, perhaps by Christmas.
“Now is the winter of our discontent”
(R III, Act I, Scene 1).
Like Mark here, I do not doubt your sincerity, even if I don’t see some of your points. If this is a scam, who’s benefitting? Oxford-Astra Seneca? The ruling class? I’m dubious of conspiracies but I will admit they’re spending a lot of resources (time, finances, etc) to silence voices they call “nonsense” (if they’re nonsense, why bother?).
The point you make is glaring, though. Every person making the case for lockdown assumed their jobs would be essential, not one got furloughed or had their paycheck reduced… senior civil servants even allowed themselves a 2% payrise!
In a way, it is a big government machine taking the opportunity to appear relevant in a world of shifting power leavers and technology increasingly empowering individuals.
I am reminded of the push over a century ago to emulate Bismarck’s Germany – especially the welfare state. It was a top-down thing. The workers of the time valued their growing autonomy too much. Government always expands in wartime, but how do you justify the bloated machine in peace-time?
I have never paid much attention to the deaths numbers. Infection rate in my area gives me a picture how high or low my risk is. Of course we also need to understand that the test is highly flawed and also picks up other corona viruses. A positive test does not mean ill, showing symptoms. In recent “outbreaks” they test everyone around and find a positive PCR. 80% asymptomatic. I’d rather we get as many people infected so their immune system gets triggered. Yes, shield the care homes, as most cases still happen in there and in the over 80s.
ItÂ´s interesting with the language we display other than by talking. This, chatting, is also part of that. But I wonder what studies have been performed in parts ofAsia where mask-wearing have been the norm for long?
By the way, do you know why Finland is so spared from COVID-19? The less dense populated country have applied social distancing of 1.5m since ages : ).
The old joke is that you know when a Finnish person likes you. They’re looking at your shoes instead of their own 🙂
I cannot speak for other than Malaysia where I live. Masks are everywhere. In the days of BC (before Covid) people still wore masks, almost always Japanese and a lot of Chinese. Now we have to wear the darn things and it is 34 celsius every day of the year so I find it a real chore. Every retail outlet, car park, tennis court, demands people to wear masks, get their temperature taken and scan their smart phones at a QR code to log in to some sort of track and trace system. In my province, we have had zero cases for the last 70 days. Yesterday the whole of Malaysia had 2 cases. So we’ve been doing pretty well but are still prevented from traveling internationally…. the UK for example does not have Malaysia on the OK list but they do have Vietnam and Hong Kong. Makes me laugh. Or would do if it wasn’t so bloody irritating. The author is right about not wanting to go to the pubs either. Social distancing nonsense prevails.
Its a pity that we have arts graduates running the country who don’t know the difference between fact and fiction when it comes to science
and the probability of catching Covid-19 in normal circumstances(which is vanishingly low as far as i can tell). Even catching a cold seems a rare event these days.
I would be fascinated to see the data on life years lost; based on the premise that you can’t save a life, any intervention can only extend a life. Anyone who has an interest in health economics (the two are not mutually exclusive despite the media’s attempts to promote “health before wealth”) will have come across the term Quality Adjusted Life Year (QALY). This is the fundamental measurement used when deciding if a treatment should be funded or not and takes into account the likely life extension and the quality of that extended life.
Rather bizarrely, I have not seen any mention of this metric in any media or government briefing since the start of the pandemic.
There was a study published by the ONS to SAGE on 6th March that goes into this. It was released a couple of weeks ago in amongst the other SAGE papers. It also forecast deaths both direct and indirect as a result of Covid. From memory I think direct was 35-45k and indirect 15-25k. Methinks you expect too much of the media.
When you consider the number of ISIS fighters who did make their way back to UK and are living free in UK, I really cannot see the benefit of continuing to waste vast sums of public money on lawyers to argue this out. Bring her back, stick an electronic tag on her to keep people happy that something is at least being done to keep her under restraint (unlike those who came back and are free) and forget about her. You never know she might even become a productive member of society one day, unlikely but not impossible, and if she does not then she will not be alone among many other non productive members of our society.
Suppression of Covid-19 is a fantasy. Suppression measures, to the extent they succeed, are counterproductive. It is a bit like paying hush-money to a blackmailer. It leave you vulnerable to further demands. A population which has not encountered the virus remains vulnerable to epidemic spikes. And those spikes may be more virulent than the initial epidemic, as the mild versions are suppressed by lockdowns, while the serious ones concentrate in hospitals (that is what happened in 1918).
The policy should never have deviated from management of the encounter to suppression. How long before we realise that constant hush-money is no way to live?
I see no way that this episode will end other than as predicted by the author and suspect that Miss Begum will return permanently to the UK (or more probably to England!). I neither support nor condemn this conclusion, I simply see it as the inevitable outcome.
Although her parents were immigrants I believe that Miss Begum was born and raised in Britain and is possessed of a British passport. As such she is our citizen and our problem. There may be a valid argument that she should be returned to another state, though I am unsure which one would be prepared to accept her as Pakistan has declined on the basis that her parents may be entitled to citizenship but she is not, but I have not seen this successfully expounded.
On a more practical level I believe it would be marginally preferable to have her well supervised here than potentially roaming the middle east fomenting trouble which could ultimately prove even more problematical.
I understood that she had joint citizenship – so it is a joint responsibility – if at all. She would be better of in the bosom of her family where I think she would more likely be greeted as some kind of heroine – as muslims – her family will be aware of the story of the prodigal son – and even though they probably see her, as a woman, as less valuable than a son – I’m sure they would welcome her with open arms.
Part of the problem is there is no reliable information at all, therefore anyone is entitled to believe whatever they want. Everything else is an attempt by some proponent, for reasons of an unknown agenda, to persuade you of a point of view which may be questionable. Of course, the each of the proponents will claim that they are the true fount of knowledge and in these circumstance I choose to believe none of them. We are left to make our own judgement of what is prudent.
The article merely illustrates the problem. It doesn’t have a definative solution or real data.
How many comments have been removed here?
What has happened to the comments? About 4 hours ago I read about 20 and added some. Now only 8 are there.
Real shame they didn’t put any estimates on the impact that this reporting would have on the overall death stats. If large, Matt Hancock should be fired
Civil disobedience on the way in respect of masks. No one seems to be wearing correctly, most of the time under the chin and reused time and time again. Medical friends say they are only good for 20 mins. It is not practicable or affordable for people to keep changing. Wearing longer there is the very real problem of hypoxia. Cloth masks the most unsatisfactory. All vectors of disease. Safe disposal of used masks a problem. Masks don’t inspire and won’t get people to spend. Will shop online for the necessities. Will do nothing for revival of the high street or retail. Just give guidance and as adults we should do what is right for us.
Why does esch town impose rules in rotation.it gived thr imptedded of being planned.what worries me is that as the infection are punlished it dies not mean people are on deatjs door and ready to die.wouldn’t it be less stressful just to gibe admiyted patients & deaths.leaving out the testing
Figures, which may never get sick.
“The science” is not in flux or in question. Forget proxy or surrogate measures of efficacy of masks, put aside “common sense”. We’re fortunate that there has been just one, large randomised clinical trial of masks (medical vs face coverings) vs nothing. A study of 1500 people working in and around a group of hospitals in Vietnam were followed for months. Bottom line: no difference whatsoever in the incidence of influenza like illness between the groups.
This isn’t a surprise. Respiratory viruses, to some surprisingly, are not transmitted by aerosols but by hand to contaminated surface then to face. Though we hoped masks would reduce surface contamination, the study is clear: it’s not an important enough pathway for masks / face covers to alter the outcome.
I can see how masks could have a small benefit in reducing the spread from an infected person in crowded public transport type situations, however the fact that mask wearing increases the amount you will touch your face increases the chances you will become infected. I see a lot of potentially vulnerable people wearing masks thinking they are protecting themselves, when they are not they are probably making things worse for themselves whilst people who aren’t vulnerable and are most likely to be unwitting spreaders because the either have no symptoms or such mild ones it could be anything don’t see any point in wearing masks.
You misrepresent the control group in the study as being no mask. The 3 groups were continuous medical mask, continuous cloth mask and normal practice using medical masks ie taking them on and off. What the study showed was that cloth masks were less effective than medical and could even be worse than nothing but that was not controlled for. People are either making their own cloth masks or buying cloth masks to comply with the new law. They won’t be used properly as they will just be continually reused rather than being changed for fresh masks. The new law is indeed from every angle yet another completely bungled mess with added social media hype to make the whole thing even worse.
I agree I oversimplified the third group. They researchers decided it wasn’t ethical to ask workers not to wear a mask if they normally did, so they asked them to continue with whatever was their usual routine. In some cases, no mask was routine. In others, they had sometimes to wear one, but none wore them continuously. It’s the best surrogate group for no mask.
I agree with you that though common sense suggests masks must be directionally useful, for reasons such as you’ve pointed out, it might actually be worse. Interestingly, in the RCT I linked, the cloth mask group dud experience a higher frequency of ILI.
For me, the bottom line is that I’m not equating “absence of evidence & evidence of absence”. We have a highly powered RCT which provides solid evidence of an absence of protection.
This whole Covid “plandemic” has been a crime against humanity, perpetrated by the United Nations, the World Bank, Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, the WHO, and Anthony Fauci. It was all planned in Event 201 November 2019.
Dead right, I was there. Except you left out the Jews, the freemasons and the illuminati, who all contributed bigly
Is there any connection with George Soros &Co?
Obviously, he’s secretly a space lizard and is behind it all. I detail all this in my bestseller “Elvis Shot Kennedy: Freemasonry’s Hidden Agenda”, which “Russ” has obviously read.
Really?From that fabled place Betelgeuse no doubt?
I heard it was the Bilderbergs who did it with chemtrails, to hide the fact that the Earth is flat.
No, no, not humanity… it’s a crime against sheeple! We need to get that straight right at the outset. Sheeple are the true victims!
Let me put you chattering monkeys absolutely straight. I have spent the last ten years doing serious in depth research on this, and inter-related subjects, and have a complete knowledge of what is really going on. I have already amassed over 200 documents that will prove my claim to be true (documents that will stand up in a court of law, because they were obtained from their websites, and their signatures). The problem with guffawing buffoons is that they think they are clever, because they don’t go along with these stupid “conspiracy theories”, but the joke is on you my friends, because the real conspiracy was (and still is) being perpetrated against you. What it highlights is that for every Shepherd there are a thousand sheep who blissfully munch away at the pasture, completely unaware of the wolf behind them. It seems the “herding” mentality is alive and well. For all of you who think the pandemic is simply just another accident of nature, then I suggest you keep chewing the cud, but don’t be shocked when this all comes out, and we find that many of this medical mafia start getting indicted. Watch this space.
I can see this is an enticing line of thought in the circumstances: “the rule that the most terrible actions should have the most terrible consequences” especially when we (rightly) view her behavior as wholly egregious. But it doesn’t feel like the right response to me.
Firstly, and this is a point which seems also to trouble the author -she was a child when made the decision she made -and that should provide some latitude and flexibility in our thinking about what to do with her. One should at least be curious about what was really going on inside to motivate a young person to go and join this awful Caliphate; a very disturbed and macabre fantasy.
Secondly there is little to gain from exiling her and much to learn from holding her and finding out what the hell was going on. Perhaps the author’s reluctance to see this links to a (reasonable) preconception that those authorities responsible for her eventual incarceration and rehabilitation will fail to get to the bottom of what was really going on inside her (through the which, if done properly, one might become better and more usefully informed about future prevention and rehabilitation).
Without wishing to sound too morally ‘high horse’ about it, it strikes me there is a ‘prodigal son’ comparison to be made here -that the ‘right’ thing to do is to have her back, however egregious her acts. In many ways we ‘made’ her (I don’t mean this in a wokey guilt/shaming sort of way); we remain responsible for her conduct as she is a product of our society -even if she has perverted all that the best aspects of our society stand for.
I don’t feel we are entitled to simply disown her because of what she has done. At the very least it remains our responsibility to make her experience proper justice for her actions. You could say we retain a responsibility to punish her too, and that this cannot be legitimately farmed out to a third party -otherwise we run the risk of losing our own moral authority.
“We” didn’t make her. Her family, her local environment, and her religion made her, and none of those have changed.
A better argued and more concise response than the original article. OK she was a child under the law, but Douglas Murray says she knows what she was getting into. That’s all the evidence we need! Hang legal process and the rights of the individual.
Children under the law can of course be punished. The fact that she was fifteen and teenagers are very easily influenced into perceiving life as black and white, good and bad makes me inclined to accept her back in this country. What I find irksome is that she will not have been allowed to hear any balanced discussion on the pros and cons of her religion. It is impossible to have a sensible discussion about Islam. We can about every other religion, for example catholicism is routinely evaluated in public discourse. This societal failure is a disappointing and quite recent change in our society and has been brought about by the Left.
“Prodigal son”?? only if you naively fall for the media polished Shamima. The parable includes the concept of repentance. The thoughts that taking her back is the “right thing” and “we made her” are terribly illiberal – we are all independent agents of our futures and need to held to account for our actions.
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