A British minister is trapped misleading the public on Covid testing. It’s part of a pattern of government misuse of the figures.

15 May 2020 By Paul Martin

They declared that 100,000 people would be tested by the last day of April. As the daily testing numbers at that point were just in the low throusands, most commentators and the hostile media, licked their lips at the imminent failure.

Yet astonishoingly, the government claimed that the last day of April 122,000 tests were caqrried out. And the testers are targeting 200,000 for the last day of May.

Then it dropped again on the first few days of May.

Now it’s daily testing achievement reached 127,000, a British minister announced excitedly this week. Except that’s not true.

It was a false figure. Only 72,000 people were tested – it’s just that some of them were tested more than once on that day. A re-test may have been done because the first test was not decisive, or could even have been done erroneously.

So trumpeting the number of tests, rather than the number of people actually tested, was and is a distortion of reality.

Sure enough, on the BBC programme Question Time on 14 May, a government minister, Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay, stepped over the line of truth by boasting about the 128,000 people who he said had been tested the day before.

When pulled up by the astute interviewer Fiona Bruce he was obliged to admit that when he said people he meant tests.

Number of cases and deaths

As of 9am on 15 May, there have been 2,353,078 tests, with 133,784 tests on 14 May.

1,663,492 people have been tested, of which 236,711 tested positive.

As of 5pm on 14 May, of those tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, 33,998 have died. This new figure includes deaths in all settings, not just in hospitals. The equivalent figure under the old measure would have been 28,010.

TestsPeople testedPositiveDeaths in hospitalsDeaths in all settings

Breakdown of testing by 3 of the testing strategy ‘pillars’


Pillar 1Pillar 2Pillar 4Total
People tested20,20249,38869,590

It’s not the only government statistical distortion.

Correspondent.world showed very early on in the lockdown that the death figures were being heavily under-reported. All that was being reported were those who had already (while alive) been tested, found to have had the Covid-19 disease, and then died.

What had been left out were all those who had died at home or at Care Homes.

Only weeks later were figures for all the daily deaths being reported in the government’s public statements.

There was some justification for using the hospital figures, because, as correspondent.world was able to discover, it takes longer for the deaths of those who die at home or at Care Homes to be reported.

But the ‘lie’ was for the government to make out that the daily figure for deaths in hospitals constituted all the deaths.

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