The UK is currently experiencing an infection wave following the co-occurrence of the highly transmissible Delta variant and the relaxation of social distancing measures. Opinions were divided on the wisdom of the decision to relax all social distancing rules in England from 19 July. Without taking a view on the policy, as statisticians we can ask how this decision was made – and in particular, whether a systems view was taken.
Misinterpreting statistical anomalies and risk assessment when analysing Covid-19 deaths by ethnicity
Imagine there is a country called Bayesland that is divided into two distinct geographical areas – North Bayesland and South Bayesland – with equal population sizes. The country has been struck with a new, novel, infectious disease called P-STAT. Statistics reveal that the death rate for this disease for Southerners is twice that of the death rate for Northerners in each different age category (Table 1).
The Covid-19 pandemic is a rapidly moving challenge. As countries and states scramble to meet this challenge in different ways, it can be difficult to follow and understand the data. Epidemiologists build models that incorporate a number of factors. But these are complex and must be updated as the data evolve.
Social media is a place for people to share their feelings, concerns, questions, and opinions. This is as true during the Covid-19 pandemic as it has been at any other time since Twitter, Facebook and other similar services came into existence. But the things people talk about during the pandemic are likely to be different to what they talk about in normal times. After all, at various points throughout 2020, people have been forced to stay at home in the interests of public health, schools have temporarily closed, family and friends have been kept apart, and many individuals have lost their jobs or sources of income.
Just a few days before the UK began its roll-out of a second Covid-19 vaccine, the decision was made to defer second doses of both vaccines to 12 weeks in order to maximize the number of citizens in “priority groups” who would receive a first dose by mid-February 2021. This decision departed radically from the trialled inter-dose interval of 3 weeks for the Pfizer/BioNTech messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine, the world’s first mRNA vaccine, and so is immunologically heroic.