Author of Guardian article on death toll calls on British government to stop using it | Politics


A statistician has asked the government to stop using an article he wrote for the Guardian to justify why the UK death toll from coronavirus should not be compared to that of other countries.

Professor David Spiegelhalter said in the April 30 article that it was difficult to compare the number of deaths from Covid-19 across countries due to the different methodologies used by governments to measure deaths.

His article points out that even though the UK has started to include coronavirus deaths in non-hospital settings, the total toll is probably still too low as it does not include the many deaths of people who have not been tested . Spiegelhalter notes that other countries also use different methodologies, such as Spain where deaths in nursing homes are not included.

On the day the article was published, England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, congratulated him during the daily coronavirus briefing # 10, saying it showed that comparing death rates in different countries was an “unsuccessful exercise”.

Confirmed cases in the UK

Public Health England data on


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