What Accounts for the UK’s Unusually High Death Toll?

There’s an interesting blog post by Jason Oke and Carl Heneghan on the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine website, speculating as to what could account for the UK’s high Covid death toll over the past three weeks. They note that the UK is an outlier when compared to every other European country.

Analysing deaths since mid-July the UK is a clear outlier with a Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of 6.57. Every other European country has a CFR for this period less than three, and Spain is as low as 0.15.

Spain has reported over 60,000 cases, but only 94 deaths; Germany has 21,000 cases compared to the UK’s 26,500 cases but reports 93% fewer deaths (129 versus 1,744), and Russia has nearly ten times as many cases as the UK but only twice the deaths.

The difference in the UK is so stark that the primary explanation has to be in the current recording and reporting of deaths. We are expecting the UK numbers to be revised this week to bring them, somewhat, in line with the rest of Europe.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph is reporting that the official daily death toll could be scrapped, following an investigation into the reporting anomalies flagged up by Yoon Loke and Carl Heneghan in a CBEM blog post three weeks ago.

Stop Press: Matt Hancock’s crack army of contract tracers are sitting on their hands doing nothing, according to report done by SAGE. The group said the army of up to 25,000 staff had reached 51,524 close contacts of people who tested positive for coronavirus between the end of May and the end of July. That amounts, on average, to two successful contacts per employee across the period. The Telegraph has more:

The criticism chimes with comments from staff employed by NHS Test and Trace which have emerged since its launch at the end of May.

One, a trained clinician, said the job was akin to being “paid to watch Netflix”. Others spoke of being members of a WhatsApp group called the Mouse Movers Club, which they use to remind each other to move their computer mouse every 15 minutes to avoid being locked out of the system.

The latest “fix” of this fiasco is to turn over responsibility for contact tracing to local authorities. What could possibly go wrong?

By 11 August 2020 /