A few days ago I had a heated debate with an elderly conspiracy theorist, who argued that Macron was inflating the CV figures in order to ‘vaccinate everyone’ but he couldn’t explain why the UK was trying to do the reverse, ie. trying to keep the total down.
Meanwhile, I couldn’t figure why UK death figures in the UK and international press have remained below 130,000 for so long, whereas in the French press reported deaths in France have continued to climb. However the following is pasted from a UK gov website (and edited for conciseness/clarity)
Deaths within 28 days of positive test :138 Daily number of deaths within 28 days of first positive test, reported on Tuesday, 3 August 2021.
Total: 129,881 deaths within 28 days of first positive test, reported up to Tuesday, 3 August 2021.
Deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate
Weekly: 392 deaths where COVID-19 is mentioned as a cause on the death certificate, registered during the week ending Friday, 23 July 2021.
Johnson’s gov is using a different set of criteria to keep the UK’s Covid death toll down. I’d been aware of this for a while but the disparity between the figures is now becoming considerable . Over 20, 000 UK Covid deaths haven’t been recorded as such.
Bojo is a master of fiddling figures for everything, I wouldn’t trust anything from them even if they told me the UK flag was red,white and blue.
Massaging and manipulation of figures is second nature to them.
On the face of it this seems odd - after all, wasn’t everyone (me included) predicting 100,000 cases a day?
Egg on face time?
No - you have to go on the data that is available - anything else is speculation and up to a few weeks ago cases were, indeed rising rapidly so caution was certainly appropriate.
There are several factors:
There is the “pingdemic” and the headlines surrounding the negative effects of test and trace in causing a lot of people to be “pinged” and having to isolate. So much so that large numbers of professions have been identified where employers can request daily lateral flows instead of employees having to self-isolate. Of course this is a function of the number of positive cases but the tabloids in particular don’t seem to have focussed on this. There is <a href=“https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/57779371”>some evidence that people are deleting the app which is going to result in fewer contacts being identified and fewer people subsequently getting tested.
There is also the fact that fewer tests are being done (sorry, did have a link to some figures but mislaid) - the government counts tests sent out but the number being processed by the labs is down much more.
Finally the kids are off school and it is warm and sunny (some of the time) - both factors are likely to lower case numbers. Covid is a respiratory virus and these are naturally less prevalent in the summer when people are more likely to be interacting outside in fresh air, than inside in stuffy, poorly ventilated spaces which allow much more viral transmission.
If the case numbers are unreliable (mainly for the first two reasons above) what can we look at to determine the real trend? - well, hospital admissions has always been a good indicator and these look to be falling as well.
So the fall in cases looks “real”. Though a note of caution is the ONS survey data - this is random sampling of the population whether symptomatic or not so likely to be much more accurate. This is still showing a rise but it is somewhat delayed compared to the case data so might start to reflect the downturn in a week or so.
What is especially interesting about these figures is the estimation that 90% of the population have antibodies - that’s real “herd immunity” levels so the final fact or in the UK is that the virus just could be starting to run out of people to infect.
For France, the first question I’d as is “are the rates going up”?
In fact the answer seems to be “no, not any longer”, at least for large parts of France.
Over large swathes of France the rate has also peaked in the last week or so.
Some factors are probably shared - especially the fact that kids are off school.
My gut feeling at the moment is that we will see steady or falling numbers through August and early September, probably in both countries, but there is a risk that once the kids are back at school and exchanging not just stories about their summer hols but virus as well that cases could rise again. Slightly cynically I have decided to take advantage and scheduled another trip over for just after the kids have gone back but before the numbers are likely to have caught up
I’ll be queueing up for mine (along with the 'flu jab), whatever Helen says (sorry Helen)
On deaths I suspect MarkH is right - Chris Giles (https://twitter.com/ChrisGiles_) from the FT ran a series of estimates for a long time when it was obvious from ONS data that the excess deaths were higher than the official reports but he stopped when the two sets of figures aligned more closely.
I believe we may never know the true number of excess deaths.
The online Ouija board has been returned to the data cabinet…
It’s interesting how the highest incidence of positive tests has shifted from Paris and other major centres to the Med and Atlantic coasts. I think this might not simply due to the obvious, but also the type of tourist, compared with other holiday areas.
Here in the upper Lot Valley at present is seems as though every other vehicle going past our house is a amper van, but I assume the following of the occupants:
Adults are probably middle aged and vaccinated, with most social mixing occurring in small outdoor groups, whereas at the coast there’ll be a higher percentage of young single people, a smaller percentage will be vaccinated and there’ll be much more socialising in crowded bars and clubs.
Also, have just read ‘that fully vaccinated people may be less likely than unvaccinated people to pass the virus on to others, due to having a smaller viral load on average and therefore likely shedding less virus.’