Q: How do you make your #COVID19 situation look less scary, without actually combating the disease?
A: Fiddle with the data.
That's what's just happened here in England. Test & Trace have quietly changed their data, suddenly changing our picture of the severity of the disease 🧵
The starting point is to note that perhaps the best measure (admittedly of a bad bunch) when it comes to overall case data, is to work out the number of positive cases as a percentage of tests taken. Here is how that chart looked for England as of last week. Scary, right?
Given cases are rising pretty quickly, it looked v much as if by this week England's positivity rate would have been above France/Spain. So here's what the statisticians have done: changed their definition for the total number of tests. Footnote here: gov.uk/government/pub…
Now this might be a better way to count overall tests. Which is good. But first off, this is an obscure footnote, not even included in the Test & Trace report itself, but in a link. Why be so surreptitious? Second, it has major implications and completely changes the picture:
As a result of an obscure statistical switch no-one was supposed to notice, the #COVID19 positivity rate in England has gone from looking like it's worse than France and Spain to looking better. Look at the red lines here. Which are we supposed to believe?
As I say, this is plausibly a better way of measuring it. So why do it so surreptitiously and with precious little context/framing? Data is central to understanding #COVID19. Quietly messing with the data further undermines confidence in it - and the handling of the pandemic.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Ed Conway

Ed Conway Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @EdConwaySky

16 Oct
IMF boss tells Rishi Sunak: "now is not yet the time to balance the books"
She warns of "massive bankruptcies and unemployment" if govts around the world withdraw economic support amid #COVID19's second surge.
Exclusive interview with @KGeorgieva on @SkyNews imminently
IMF head @KGeorgieva tells me there is still time to salvage a Brexit deal - even tho No10 says talks are over. “These are the last few weeks of negotiations; there is still a possibility to continue to work towards that agreement
“The clock is ticking but it’s not yet midnight.”
When considering the IMF MD's comments to @SkyNews tonight, perhaps worth reflecting that less than a fortnight ago @RishiSunak gave his first Tory conference speech. His standout message?
"We will always balance the books".
Read 4 tweets
16 Oct
Your weekly reminder to be a bit cautious comparing last week’s headline fig from the @ONS survey to this week’s
Last week @ONS reported 17.2k new daily cases.
This week 27.9k new cases.
V big increase; doubling every 8-9 days! BUT... Image
As we've covered before, those two numbers (17.2k and 27.9k aren't really directly comparable). Because this week more data has come in and the @ONS has remodelled its epidemiological curve. So it has revised where it thinks we were last week up to 19.5k.
The implication is #COVID19 is doubling every 13 days or so. Still not "good" news. Still higher than anyone would like. But not quite as scary as you might have thought if you're bluntly comparing those two numbers.
Read 6 tweets
16 Oct
You know the theory that the public is turning against vaccines, egged on by anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists on social media? What if that theory itself turned out to be a conspiracy theory?
A thread, based on my @thetimes column today: thetimes.co.uk/article/dd5181…
Lemme be clear: I'm not going to make a point abt the efficacy/safety of vaccines; I'll leave that to others. I'm questioning whether public opinion is indeed swinging towards vax scepticism. Plenty suspect it is (sorry @DAaronovitch I know you don’t write the headlines but:) Image
Vaccine scepticism catastrophism (sorry for double -ism) has gone into overdrive since #COVID19 for understandable reasons. Epidemiologists reckon even a 100% effective vaccine (& the initial ones are likely be less than that) wld need 60-70% take-up for it to be truly effective)
Read 14 tweets
14 Oct
Exclusive: UK govt is paying management consultants the equivalent of million and a half pound salaries to work on Test & Trace.
I’ve seen documents showing senior staff from Boston Consulting Group are being paid day rates of around £7k, equivalent to £1.5m on an annual basis.
The docs show some BCG consultants charging day rates of £7,360.
They’ve given govt a “COVID discount” of 10-15%.
That works out at £6.6k a day - equivalent to £1.5m a year.
In a single week govt is paying these senior consultants more than they pay an experienced nurse in a year
I’ve also uncovered documents showing that far from scaling down its reliance on private sector consultants, the govt has created a further 200 roles for consultants to work on the moonshot testing system. Among the recipients:
Deloitte: 84 new roles
KPMG: 50
EY: 31
Read 4 tweets
13 Oct
Thread: Throughout the pandemic there's been plenty of attention focused on #COVID19 deaths and on what’s happened in hospitals and in care homes - for obvious and understandable reasons. But for months there’s been another phenomenon which I find deeply unsettling.
Even after lockdown ended the number of people dying at home has stayed far, far above historic levels. There have been 28k excess deaths in people’s homes - more than in hospitals, care homes or other settings. Only a fraction of these deaths are officially put down to #COVID19.
I’ve been banging on about this since early on in the pandemic. It's not a new phenomenon. But it remains stubbornly unchanged even months on, even as excess deaths in other settings - care homes and hospitals - have dropped into normal or negative levels.
Read 16 tweets
6 Oct
Jeepers the UK #COVID19 numbers are rising fast.
Another 14,542 cases over the past 24 hours.
We've been assured this is no longer the backlog effect following the data disaster.
And when you drill into the data we're now comfortably above 12k new cases a day *by test date*
Last week it looked v much from the data as if UK cases (at least as reported each day on the govt dashboard) were slowing. This week it's suddenly a v different picture. Compare the red and black lines.
#COVID19 cases are rising fast. Doubling roughly every 10 days.
How does UK compare with France/Spain? Case growth now seems to be accelerating faster than it did there.
Chart 1 is #COVID19 positive tests BY TEST DATE.
I'm going to retire my old chart because it's totally distorted by the data dump. But wave goodbye to it in chart 2
Read 6 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!