Monday, May 04, 2020

Unreliable Statistics

There's a brilliant article in the Guardian this week by David Spiegelhalter.

At prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, Keir Starmer said he had added up a total of 27,241 coronavirus deaths so far, leaving the UK “possibly on track to have the worst death rate in Europe”.

Even if we reach some sort of stable situation – if we can imagine it – will we ever know the direct and indirect health effects of the epidemic, taking into account reduced road accidents, the benefits of reduced pollution, the effects of recession and so on? Many studies will try to disentangle all these, but my cold, statistical approach is to wait until the end of the year, and the years after that, when we can count the excess deaths. Until then, this grim contest won’t produce any league tables we can rely on.

You can read the whole thing here.

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