During the current worldwide crisis, all eyes are on the daily death toll. But can we trust those statistics?
When you look at the UK’s daily number of Covid-19 deaths, the data does not show who has actually died because of Covid-19. The NHS data “relate to patients who have died in hospital in England and who have tested positive for COVID-19.” So even if there was another pre-excisting illness like COPD or cancer, if someone was tested positive for Covid-19, the death counts as a Covid-19 death.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) are publishing weekly counts of deaths in which “COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate” and also cases “where COVID-19 is suspected, but no formal diagnostic test has taken place.”
This means, in the UK and all over the world a Covid-19 death counts as a person who either died after testing postive of Covid-19 (not necessarily because of the virus) or “probably” had the virus.
Not every Covid-19 death is actually caused by Covid
The official numbers say that “During March 2020, around 86% of deaths involving COVID-19 in England and Wales (that is, with COVID-19 mentioned anywhere on the death certificate) had COVID-19 as the underlying cause of death according to the WHO rules,” according to the ONS.
But: “Of the deaths involving COVID-19 that occurred in March 2020, there was at least one pre-existing condition in 91% of cases,” said the ONS.
So did those people actually die of Covid – or because of their pre-existing health conditions?
“Nearly 10% of people aged over 80 will die in the next year,” Prof Sir David Spiegelhalter at the University of Cambridge was cited by the BBC “and the risk of them dying if infected with coronavirus is almost exactly the same.”
“That does not mean there will be no extra deaths – but, Sir David says, there will be ‘a substantial overlap’.”
“Many people who die of Covid would have died anyway within a short period,” he was further cited.
Health risks because of lockdown
The BBC also cited Prof Robert Dingwall from Nottingham Trent University who said there will certainly be “collateral damage” from other factors such as “mental health problems and suicides linked to self-isolation, heart problems from lack of activity, the impact on health from increased unemployment and reduced living standards.”
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