Why has the UK done so badly on Covid-19? There are still no simple answers | David SpiegelhalterThe Guardian

Britain tops Europe’s excess deaths league table. But it will take years to fully assess the effectiveness of national responses

At the end of April, which seems an age ago, I wrote an article for the Guardian about the problems of comparing the UK’s Covid-19 mortality rates with those of other countries, and said: “It’s tempting to try to construct a league table, but we’ll have to wait months, if not years, for the true picture.” Three months later, and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has duly obliged with a ranking of countries in Europe, using Eurostat data up to the end of May. The UK comes out on top. But, unlike football or Eurovision, this is not a league table you want to head.

The ONS analysis completely ignores the statistics on coronavirus deaths that we hear about all the time, and instead simply counts the total number of deaths from whatever cause. It then calculates the excess over the average for the past five years, adjusting for each country’s age patterns. Any excess could be due to Covid-19, or the effects of lockdown, or another reason.

Continue reading…Britain tops Europe’s excess deaths league table. But it will take years to fully assess the effectiveness of national responses At the end of April, which seems an age ago, I wrote an article for the Guardian about the problems of comparing the UK’s Covid-19 mortality rates with those of other countries, and said: “It’s tempting to try to construct a league table, but we’ll have to wait months, if not years, for the true picture.” Three months later, and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has duly obliged with a ranking of countries in Europe, using Eurostat data up to the end of May. The UK comes out on top. But, unlike football or Eurovision, this is not a league table you want to head.The ONS analysis completely ignores the statistics on coronavirus deaths that we hear about all the time, and instead simply counts the total number of deaths from whatever cause. It then calculates the excess over the average for the past five years, adjusting for each country’s age patterns. Any excess could be due to Covid-19, or the effects of lockdown, or another reason. Continue reading…Read More


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