Maybe, then, excess deaths have plateaued for the time being. This was what I expected. But there is no sign of a fall as yet. In that case, we can expect 1,700 death a day for a while as yet.

Wasn’t he telling us 5,000 a day? Or 10,000?

55 thoughts on “Erm?”

  1. There’s an article in the Guardian today by Spiegelhalter who’s usually pretty good on statistical matters. Basically it boils down to the idea that we can only talk sensibly about deaths from a pandemic some time after, much like GDP figures, and that deaths per million are what matters, not absolute numbers per country(*). However, it does have the one useful datum that excess deaths for the week ending 17th April were ~12,0000 (= 1,700/day). I bet that’s where Spud got his prediction from. The death rate has been falling since then of course.

    (*) And when looking at that, Belgium has by far the Covid-19 highest death rate in Europe.

  2. But he’s an associate professor in epidemiology? Isn’t he? I hear he’s also working on a degree in astrophysics in the hope he can discover an extra solar planet where an advanced society has grown up in an equitable and peaceful fashion just by reading the content of his blog after it was broadcast through a black hole he’d created in his outside loo.

  3. @aaa,that is a fascinating article. Spud at his best. He is keen on the FT hack John Burns-Murdoch and his faked-up graphs.

    As he says, what is notable about the first chart is that everyone else is succeeding in curtailing covid-19 now. We are not. If the UK current trajectory continues – and as we run out of medical facilities that is a reasonable assumption for the next week or more – then deaths of more than 10,000 a day are likely in little more than a week if the rate of growth seen yesterday continues

    Everything he says in that paragraph turned out to be mistaken. How surprising is that?

  4. Deaths from Covid are falling and have been for a month. There are not enough deaths from Covid to account for the excess in all cause fatalities. Hence measures to combat Covid will have little effect on the excess in all cause fatalities.
    It is high time we remembered that Covid is not the only problem we face. It is not even the only medical problem.

  5. @ Arthur the Cat
    Pendantically, San Marino has death rates of 1,208 per million but that’s because it’s a densely populated town as well as being a country and towns have far worse death rates than rural areas (London v rest of England, Glasgow v rest of Scotland, Madrid v rest of Spain, New York v anywhere).
    Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, past President of the Royal Statistical Society …

  6. The Meissen Bison

    Steven Crook: I hear he’s also working on a degree in astrophysics.

    We can look forward to planet by planet reporting in due course.

  7. Steven Crook said:
    “I hear he’s also working on a degree in astrophysics”

    Designing one, presumably. After all, he wouldn’t study for one, because that would imply there were things he did not already know.

  8. Nobody even has a handle on how many deaths are covid-related. Hector, elsewhere, has analysed the stats, but even there he has some assumptions which may not be correct as new facts emerge. He identifies excess deaths not atributed to covid by the NHS and reckons they are caused by non-covid folks being ignored by that sainted institution. The emergence of the blood clotting effect of covid being a major and hitherto unknown killer means that many deaths by heart attack or stroke without pulmonary symptoms or any reason to test for covid post-mortem would be a reason to suspect under-counting, or that most of the excess is in fact due to the disease.

  9. @john77 “Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, past President of the Royal Statistical Society …”

    My remark about him was tongue in cheek. He’s a local and a friend’s son works with/for him.

  10. Dennis, Accounting's White Dwarf

    We can look forward to planet by planet reporting in due course.

    Well, he did invent it, you know.

  11. How long before Murphy bemoans the fact that none of the news programmes have asked him for his expert opinion on the different COVID modelling methodologies. As a qualifed chartered accountant he had to study statistics you understand.

  12. @ Arthur the Cat
    I thought first time that you were employing the British Art of Understatement then changed my mind. I was right first time, but not second. Apologies for doubting you!

  13. Pish, Dennis. That’s yesterday’s news. He’s working galaxy-by-galaxy reporting as we speak. He’s no intention of being yesterday’s man. Or even Man-Of-The Day. He’s the future’s man. “Tomorrow belongs to me.”

  14. Much as I hate to absolve the Belgians, it’s unfortunately clear that even the cause-of-death figures are counted incredibly differently between countries and cross-country comparison is almost useless.

  15. There must be another Professorship somewhere, looking for such an incredible* candidate.

    Perhaps we could club together to sponsor him?

    (*Incredible, as in its original meaning)

  16. I’m amazed at the number of epidemiologists that are around during the current crisis. And I don’t mean the likes of Murphy or even the esteemed commentators on this and other sites. I’m talking about Prof Such-and-Such, head of the Dept. of epidemiology at Wherever University and Prof. So-and-So, head of the Dept. of epidemiology at some other University. Etc, Etc. The list seems endless.

    Presumably all these departments are largely paid for out of the public purse one way or another and I must admit to some slight disappointment with the results of our investment so far. All these clever guys who have been studying the problem of epidemics and pandemics for decades seem to have been caught with their proverbial pants down and we seem to be relying on a Prof who models bovine diseases as our go-to expert.

    In fact the response of all these highly credentialed chaps has been fucking woeful and the problem of useless academic wankers in this field would seem to be pretty global. (Although the guys, (and gals), at Wuhan can at least boast that they started the whole thing.

    I guess that the research goals are set by the likes of PHE or CDC which may explain why our epidemiologists are so fucking useless in this epidemic or maybe we don’t actually need quite so many Departments studying something for which there probably is nothing much we can do and anything we do do seems to be making things worse.

  17. @Kevin B

    Epidemiology ≠ Forecasting

    A lot of the epidemiologists are doing long-term statistical work investigating various risk-factors (genetic, socio-economic, behavioural, environmental, impact of medical care and vaccinations etc) for disease. Some are doing more short-term “shoe-leather” work, field investigations into new outbreaks, setting up surveillance systems and so on. There are only a few clusters of researchers doing the mathematical modelling and forecasting work. Perhaps there should be more, but it isn’t just Ferguson/Imperia.

  18. One suspects that a lot of the research being done by the Professor of Epidemiology at Bog Standard University is of a ‘In which I show how climate change will kill us all via various pandemics’ type.

  19. Ummm, given that the highest reported daily death figure was 1564 on 22 April, I guess the short answer is “No”.

  20. Found this at Mick Hartley’s blog via Samizdata. Wait until millions of fear-clenched bedwetters out there find this is their lot also:

    “The industry I work in has collapsed leaving tens of thousands, including myself, at risk of redundancy and the loss of everything I have worked so hard for over so many years. I’m not sleeping. My health is suffering.

    As compensation I get to be cooped up at home with small children all day long every single day. Small children who don’t understand they may be living the last few months in the house they were born in.

    This lockdown is a catastrophe of biblical proportions and not just for me, for everyone. We are saving some lives but the cost to other lives and livelihoods is almost unquantifiable.

    And the rest of you who are not as badly affected as me, wipe that smile off your face. You will be paying more tax to subsidise my dole payments and housing benefit in very short order.”

  21. Sorry. That didn’t make sense, did it? 1564 x 365 = 570860 p.a.
    Given 1) You’re at the back end of winter 2) The population bulge of us baby-boomers well past our best before date I’d expect it to be higher

  22. BIS, That’s just what PHE are reporting for Covid19. The full daily deaths will be running higher

  23. Government scientist Neil Ferguson resigns after breaking lockdown rules to meet his married lover – Telegraph

    Experts eh? Where would you be without them?

  24. Bloke in North Dorset

    Fergusen resigning is rather convenient for the government. Just as they’re looking for a face saving way of changing tack they can bring in another modeller who can slaughter a cow, look at the entrails and pronounce it was all a bad dream and we can start easing the lockdown.

    I wonder who dobbed him to the Torygraph?

  25. The cynic in me wonders if Ferguson’s ‘resignation’ is really a cover for him really being sacked for gross incompetence…………

  26. Let’s assume you’re right, Mr in ND.

    We then have some proportion of the Cabinet which voted to impose this disaster, in the knowledge that the scientific basis for it was advocated by a man who had little belief in its gravity.

  27. Maybe he turned himself in so he could get out before people started turning on him and the govt put him in the firing line

  28. Bloke in North Dorset

    Not necessarily m’Lud. At the time they got blindsided in to the lockdown. Just a few days before PHE declared “As of 19 March 2020, COVID-19 is no longer considered to be a high consequence infectious disease (HCID) in the UK.” This meant ” They have determined that several features have now changed; in particular, more information is available about mortality rates (low overall), and there is now greater clinical awareness and a specific and sensitive laboratory test, the availability of which continues to increase.”

    This is 3 days after Ferguson’s (in)famous paper making the claim that if we don’t lock down there’ll be massive numbers of deaths.

    Meanwhile those experts in the MSM were screaming for a lockdown on the basis that everyone else was locking down so the government was under serious pressure, but holding out. Eventually Ferguson’s paper got in to the public conscience and the MSM went ballistic and the Govt really had no choice but to lock down on 24 March given the immediacy of Ferguson’s claim. I’ll bet there wasn’t a dissenter in the cabinet then and I don’t blame them.

    Where it went wrong was extending it, but that’s a separate discussion.

  29. Proved something I’ve been suspecting for a while. That the overwhelming support for the lockdown & social distancing is largely for other people. Individuals & individual households regard themselves as exempt. How prolific that attitude is I couldn’t say. But I’d imagine extensive.

  30. BiND “I wonder who dobbed him to the Torygraph?”

    If in the public eye, perhaps you should expect newspapers etc to be following your every move.

  31. BiS “… largely for other people”

    You must not infect me, I of course could not possibly be infected.

  32. Death rate started down in my state 9 April.


    There are still carriers out there. There are still people susceptable to catching it.

    What’s different now?

  33. In that case, we can expect 1,700 death a day for a while as yet

    ONS: UK average daily deaths is 1,680, but until now we accepted peeps die

    Wuhan Virus Pandemic? No, Wuhan Virus Scamdemic*
    Month Six and
    Global Population ~7.8 Billion – 7,800,000,000
    Global Wuhan Virus Deaths 255,595 as of May 05, 2020, 17:48 GMT (~0.003%)

    Annual Flu Deaths just in UK is ~25,000 and all cause annual deaths in UK ~680,000

    Reaction is baffling to me

    * A pandemic is an epidemic of disease that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple continents or worldwide, affecting a substantial number of people – 0.4% of population infected is not ‘substantial’, 0.003% dying is not ‘substantial’

  34. @BiND May 5, 2020 at 9:07 pm

    Correct. However, Gov’t should have robustly dismissed Fergusson (now resigned for sex liasons) as a known charlatan

    – Delingpole: The SAGE Committee Ruining Britain Is More Jeremy Corbyn Than Boris Johnson

    “What was the point of voting Conservative in the last general election if the end result was for the country to be run by a committee largely comprising Corbynistas, Remainers, and other left-leaning ideologues?

    And why isn’t the mainstream media kicking up more of a fuss about this grotesque betrayal of democracy?”

    Delers spot on; it’s a disgrace

    Sanity: Scathing attack on Govs and MSM Hysteria
    Oxford-educated Prof. John Rao of St. John’s University in New York City has come out swinging against the “fraudulent” experts who counseled the shuttering of the world “for the sake of creating an antiseptic, barren, soulless world unfit for human beings to live in.”


    @Dennis, Gamecock

    Chicago Mayor “Talk on social media about meeting friends and you face jail”
    Why isn’t the ACLU fighting for our liberties?
    As freedoms vanish across the country the ACLU has filed dozens of lawsuits, none protecting the Bill of Rights

    Gov (Dem) Wretched Whitmore “Protestors opposing Lockdown are racists” – whut?

  35. All these clever guys who have been studying the problem of epidemics and pandemics for decades seem to have been caught with their proverbial pants down and we seem to be relying on a Prof who models bovine diseases as our go-to expert.

    What did Kevin B know and when did he know it?

  36. Pcar–never mind the media kicking up a storm about SAGE–WTF is Johnson doing? Back a week and repeating the same platitudes while UK econ burns?

  37. Looked at a local news site story on reopening the economy, the comments section was people screaming for mandatory masks and asking for the lockdown to continue and people who still went outside were ignorant and selfish etc.
    Also went into the office and noticeably the homeless are expanding out of traditional areas to take advantage of the empty space.

  38. @Mr Ecks

    Only storm media had on SAGE was Cummings sitting in. Nothing about SAGE being Left Corbynista Commies

    Johnston is a a big disappointment. On Wuhan Virus, he’s floundering and refusing to make tough decisions and back up with strong arguments. But then, I said same before election when you were full-on BoJo acolyte

    – Former Gov Chris Christie – death is inevitable, we must accept that. A life relying on foodbanks is not a happy or meaningful life

    Truth spoken, Left go berserk despite railing against peeps having to use foodbanks for 10 Years. Suddenly foodbanks good and all should depend on them, as long as no Reps/Tories helping

    Good if no Remainers involved
    UK-U.S. Trade Negotiations Begin as Europhiles Demand Brexit Delay

    Meanwhile, the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) Westminster leader Ian Blackford has become the latest Remainer to call for the transition period, which ends on December 31st, to be extended for another two years because of coronavirus


    Brainwashed by Gov & MSM to be fearful of Freedom – CoronaPhobia
    When will TV news stop scaring us to death over coronavirus crisis?

  39. Wasn’t he telling us 5,000 a day? Or 10,000?

    He was also telling us that whatever number he picked out of his ass that day that it was simultaneously too many and never enough (to assuage the “heartless Tories).

    Spud is just a toxic little arse.

  40. @Mr Ecks

    More Tory MPs attacking Gov’s continued ‘House Arrest’ policy

    – Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee

    – Peter Bone

    – Sir Charles Walker
    “I do think we need to have a frank, open and honest debate about the ethics of trading lives tomorrow to save lives today”

    Sir Charles, Yes, yes, yes

    – Speaker reprimands Boris Johnson for planning to make lockdown announcement, outside Commons

  41. The cynic in me wonders if Ferguson’s ‘resignation’ is really a cover for him really being sacked for gross incompetence…………

    When did anyone in the public sector get sacked for gross incompetence?

  42. Pcar–I was never a full on Blojo acolyte–said-and still say he is best of a very,very bad bunch. Supported him as it came down to the ONLY chance of Brexit. And thanks to EU arrogance we are moving towards a No Deal exit.

    Don’t kid yourself that there was any other way to Brexit left open by Oct last year.

    Bloj still has time to fuck that up–but at this stage –since it is the one thing he so far hasn’t–he would be wise to leave Brexit alone. He must know we would be fucked by extn and have to pay 100s of billions to EU under any such. Since he believes money is merely a concept he could be that dumb but his base only hangs together now because of Brexit–so I think that is a cock-up too far even for Blojo.

    Always have said–look back–he is BlueLabour –and this is the source of his failings. If yr head is full of Marxist shit you have NO business calling yourself a Tory–but that is the state the HoS Party and Hierarchy are in.

    You tell me what to do about it.

  43. “When will TV news stop scaring us to death over coronavirus crisis?”

    Amen. Nightly, the usually excellent Tucker Carlson tries to stir up a run on meat.

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