NEWS7 May 2020

Spiegelhalter asks government to stop citing Covid-19 article

Covid-19 News Public Sector UK

UK – Statistician Professor David Spiegelhalter has asked the prime minister to stop referring to an article he wrote to claim that international comparisons cannot be made about Covid-19 death tolls. 

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In an article published by the Guardian on 30th April, Spiegelhalter, chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at Cambridge University, wrote about the difficulty of establishing death tolls during the pandemic and comparing them to those of other countries.

The piece has been referred to by the prime minister and England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty.

When questioned about the death toll by Labour leader Keir Starmer during prime minister’s questions on Wednesday ( 6th May), Boris Johnson said: “I would echo what we’ve heard from Professor David Spiegelhalter and others: that at this stage, I don’t think that international comparisons and the data is yet there to draw all the conclusions that we want.”

Spiegelhalter wrote in a tweet last night: “Polite request to PM and others: please stop using my Guardian article to claim we cannot make any international comparisons yet. I refer only to detailed league tables – of course we should now use other countries to try and learn why our numbers are high”.