Archive for Office for National Statistics

Scrapping Covid surveillance study would put public health at risk [by Silvia Richardson]

Posted in Books, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2022 by xi'an

Royal Statistical Society president (and very dear friend) Sylvia Richardson published this tribune in the Guardian defending the preservation of a national surveillance system last week:

Sajid Javid is right to argue against scrapping the Office for National Statistics’ Covid surveillance study. Throughout the pandemic, national surveillance studies have provided invaluable information to support decision-making.

For any real-time health surveillance system to be reliable and cost-effective, it cannot rely solely on self-reported tests. These data sets are likely to be biased, as it is impossible to know how many people are also reporting their negative results and, if tests start to come with a cost, how many people simply aren’t testing. If we are to get reliable information about the prevalence of Covid, it is essential to maintain studies such as the ONS’s and React to allow statisticians to estimate infectiousness and the proportion of the population who are infected (including those without symptoms), as well as to identify new variants.

Abrupt disruption of a surveillance system is wasteful, will make tracking of prevalence meaningless and will put in jeopardy the future health of the public. If important surveillance studies must be scaled down, this cannot be led by arbitrary cost-cutting targets, but should be led by statisticians to ensure that studies continue to provide reliable information.

additional deaths in England & Wales

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2020 by xi'an

Source: United Kingdom Office for National Statistics

David Spiegelhalter wrote another piece for The Guardian about the number of COVID-related deaths in Britain, remarking that with the objective statistic of excess death, the kingdom is doing worse than any other country, including Belgium which is reported as the worst performer in the fight again the pandemic based on its reported COVID death numbers. David also shows the proper degree of caution in providing reasons for this terrible record rather than starting the blame game. One factor differentiating England from other countries like Italy being the spread of its COVID clusters, partly due to the higher mobility of the population, in particular its travelling for vacations. (The comparison also reveals a stable higher level of overall mortality in the UK when compared with south-west EU countries, except Portugal. It surprisingly misses Germany, which is unlikely to be a country with missing statistics!)

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