Analysis comment

BBC does its best to downplay seriousness of coronavirus growth – even leaving out second-worst affected age group from key chart

BBC News website’s article today is fraught with issues – omitting 10-19 age group entirely, which has second-highest incidence of infection, and more

A BBC article that plays down the seriousness of the rise in coronavirus cases has been criticised after using charts with different dates to support its claims and even leaving out two entire age groups that featured in today’s government briefing – including the group with the second-highest incidence of the virus.

The BBC downplays the seriousness of the emerging second wave

The BBC’s article, one of whose authors is the brother-in-law of a Conservative MP, is fraught with issues in its presentation of information.

For a start, it shows the 20-39 age group as the youngest in a chart used to suggest that the number of cases per 100,000 of population has not increased dramatically except in that age group:

But the Chief Scientific Officer’s briefing today, with a chart that breaks down the 20-39s into two age groups, showed that the 10-19 age group has fared almost as badly.

The BBC’s chart also ends at 30 August, before English schools had returned – but an up-to-date chart shows a recent sharp increase in almost every age group, with some increase in all of them:

The 0-9 age group is also entirely missing from the BBC’s graph.

While the estimated incidence per 100,000 has the 10-19s in third place, the government’s chart shows that this age group has the second highest percentage of positives among its test results:

Even the government’s figures stop soon after children in England returned to school.

But the issues with the BBC’s reporting do not end there.

Mismatched dates

The broadcaster also claims that hospital cases are not rising along with infections – but while everyone knows that hospitalisations will (of course) lag behind the number of infections, the BBC supports its claim with two charts in which the last date shown for hospitalisations is five days before the end date of the positive cases:

And as the upper chart points out, admissions in Scotland might be missing from more recent figures, so the apparently flat line for a long period is likely to be misleadingly low and flat.

The testing fallacy

The article also claims that the sharp increase in infections shown in one chart is really ‘smaller, slower and… started more recently’ because ‘we have to factor in [a] big increase in testing’ – an increase the article claims is 80%:

But the government does not tell anyone how many people it tests – and hasn’t for months. It only reports tests carried out – and adds that it includes people tested multiple times. Multiple tests will happen because of the need to check false results, meaning that you cannot ‘factor in’ all the tests carried out and reduce the percentage of positive results as if each test was an individual person with a positive or negative result.

A typical government daily testing report

And even if you do accept the ‘factoring in’, the end result is still an extremely sharp upturn in recent positive results:

The government has today admitted the seriousness of the situation – and in effect that its easing of lockdown measures has caused it. But the BBC has not reflected that reality in its reporting.

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  1. The Boris Bullsh*t Corporation strikes again. Let them eat face masks. Herd immunity is what the alleged government is really planning on.

  2. As we all know, ’twas actually the Guardian and the BBC that did for Labour at the election, far more than the Tory tabloids.

  3. Only the loony left would think that.

    I qualified to state that because I’m one of them, apparently.

    But then again, by saying it’s very thinly-veiled herd immunity by proxy, It’s somehow a pro-msm pro-toerag line

    …Yeah, me an all.

  4. There have been 12 deaths in the 10 to 19 age group since the start of the pandemic…..3 times lower than through risk of injury.
    The highest number of deaths was in people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

    1. Surely the relevant figure is how many infections. It is already well established that the death rate amongst the young is very low but that doesn’t stop them spreading it around. Because many of them may be asymptomatic knowing the infection rate amongst teens is particularly important. Mentioning the low death rate is just a pointless irrelevant distraction.

    2. lundiel,there have only been 35 deaths all told here in Vietnam,perhaps you would take stats like that into account when commenting on covid19.Plus the UK has often had more new infections in a day than we have had here in total.

      1. I’m not qualified to comment on Vietnam……You’re not qualified to comment on the UK.

      2. Lundiel, that was a profoundly stupid thing to say.
        Just because you know nothing doesn’t mean others are similarly uninformed.

      3. I think it’s a wind-up, lundiel. What would you say are the chances of THREE of our regular commenters all living in SE Asia?


    3. Not clear what your ‘point’ is. Would you perhaps care to speculate as to ‘how’ and/or ‘from where’ either cohort may have contracted Covid? Further, what about ‘all’ of those 10-19 year olds who have caught and recovered from Covid? Who did they, perhaps, infect, and how many deaths resulted?

  5. To me, the most important news today is about the appalling response of the emergency services to the Manchester bombing. It begs a debate on our health and safety culture and points to much bigger problems with our over funded, self regulated security services and their policy of recruitment, turning and controlling Jihadis terrorists.

    1. It has also served as a handy distraction. The BBC can claim to be covering “today in the courts”, without ONCE having to mention the far more important, in the long term, Julian Assange trial at the Old Bailey. There’s no emotional pull in that, apparently.

  6. Can you imagine the BBC’s coverage of the Pandemic and the mistakes associated with it which have cost so many lives if Jeremy Corbyn had been Prime Minister and acted outrageously as Johnson and his ministers? They’d have been demanding Jeremy was arrested and charged with mass murder.

  7. What is truly shocking is not the zero number of Covid19 patients in ICU in London University Hospital, but the number of other seriously ill patients in that unit
    Snowflakes you are killing people now

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