The below graphs are automatically updated daily at 2100
Lets start by looking at an overview of COVID where we can look at cases, hospital admissions, people in hospital and deaths. All time series graphs on this website will have certain events on the x-axis, these events are shown in the legend of the below graph and mark lockdowns, introduction of face masks, start of vaccination, etc. For these events I use the same colour lines to keep the graphs consistent. As you read the legend from top to bottom the line order goes from left to right. These Lines are denoted as (VLINE) in the legend.
The above graph shows as we have increasing cases we will also have increasing hospital admission, followed by increasing people in hospital followed by increasing deaths with the lag between cases and death being at between 10 to 21 days. The same happens when cases start to decrease followed by decreasing hospital admission, etc. This is what we expect to see and at first glance it appears that increasing cases are driving increasing hospitalisations and death. However when looking at the age profile of cases and deaths we see that the vast majority of deaths are in the elderly where the vast majority of cases are in the under 50’s. For more information regarding this visit the Cases and Deaths page
The above graph also shows the low amount of death from people with COVID, we must remember that in the UK a COVID death is from someone who has had a positive test within 28 days of death or displayed COVID symptoms regardless of the actual cause of death.
It is also important to note that a hospital admission is someone who was admitted to hospital and had a positive test for COVID within the first 10 days. For instance someone could be admitted to hospital for a broken leg and have a negative COVID test on day 1 then have another test on day 5. If the day 5 COVID test came back as positive they would be classed as a COVID admission even though they were not admitted because of COVID. You must also understand that at least 20% (Sage estimate as much as 40% during the first wave) of COVID cases were caught in hospitals and hospitals were using end of life COVID wards where patients were put at the end of their lives even if they did not have COVID. These patients would inevitably catch COVID before death and go down as a COVID death statistic.
Recent findings show that the UK used a lot of Midazolam during the first wave of COVID suggesting that some people may have been put on certain care pathways after testing positive for COVID killing them to relieve stress on hospitals and care homes. More work needs to be done around this however, preliminary work suggests that the UK government could be implicated in a mass euthanasia program killing the most vulnerable in society inflating COVID death figures. The Telegraph has covered some of this story and can be read here. If you have any information regarding this please contact me with details.
Looking at the overview data it appears that lockdowns decreased case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths however, if we look at other datasets such as testing, the positivity rate and growth rate we see that the increase in cases were already slowing before lockdowns suggesting that lockdowns did not cause the decrease in cases. For more information on this visit the Lockdown and Testing pages under interventions.
I will end this overview with a graph that I call Deaths vs Deaths and the point of this graph is to demonstrate how the media made the pandemic seem more severe than it actually was. When we talk about deaths we can use 2 data points one is death by reported date and the other is death by death date. Now the death by death date can lag by as much as 10 days as all deaths will not be reported on the same day or even week of death. Therefore the death by reported date is a more up to date figure however, there is an issue with using this figure and that issue is that deaths are reported in limited numbers over the weekend so after the weekend we have an overspill of deaths that need reporting and to make the matter worse we will also have an overspill of deaths from previous days as it can take time to report each death. This means that the reported death number are generally higher on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. These are the days that the news will normally have headlines of high death figures. They rarely report the death figures over the weekend as they will be lower. This is a nuanced point however, it has a big affect on how people view COVID.
The below graph illustrates this where the red bars are deaths by death date and the blue bars are deaths by reported date. If you click on the graph it will open a high resolution version were you can clearly view the bars.
If you were to zoom in on the graph you will notice that during most weeks the blue bars (death by reported date) will be higher than the red bars (death by death date) for 5 days and then lower for 2 days. These 2 days will be the weekend. At the start of COVID this was Saturday and Sunday however a change was made at some point and the lower days ended up being Sunday and Monday.
An example of how this can be misused (and was misused on a weekly basis) is when we had the peak in January. On the 20th January 2021 the media reported new highs of 1662 deaths (England only) that day the actual death number ended up being 1172 which is 29% percent, 490 deaths less.