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’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.
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.
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.
The SKWAWKBOX is provided free of charge but depends on the support of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal or here to set up a monthly donation via GoCardless (SKWAWKBOX will contact you to confirm the GoCardless amount). Thanks for your solidarity so SKWAWKBOX can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.
If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.