Posted by Sam Fenny - Memes and headline comments by David Icke Posted on 23 February 2024

The ONS’s New Excess Death Figures Don’t Pass the Smell Test

And just like that, 20,000 fewer people died unexpectedly last year, according to the Office for National Statistics. Which is handy for a Government refusing to investigate the excess deaths crisis.

Okay, so we haven’t quite reached North Korean levels of data meddling and history editing. But this does not seem far off.

Under a new methodology, unveiled on Tuesday, the ONS cut excess deaths in 2023 from 31,442 to 10,994 – a 65% drop. This isn’t because the ONS officials suddenly discovered that all these people are actually still alive. The number of people who died last year hasn’t changed. What’s changed is the baseline for determining how many deaths you should expect to happen in a given week, and thus how many that actually occurred are in excess of that baseline.

Previously the ONS used a straightforward five-year baseline, meaning that the expected figure for a given week was simply the average number of deaths in that week in the previous five years (an exception was made following the pandemic, when the ONS dropped 2020 from its five-year averages due to its high death toll).

This simple if crude method is now to be replaced with a complicated model that tries to guesstimate how many deaths you should expect after taking into account factors like the age and size of the population.

Here is what the model looks like as an equation, where each part (i.e., each sigma Σ symbol) stands for a factor that the model is trying to account for:

Not exactly comprehensible to your average politician, journalist, medic or researcher. Indeed, even Professor Carl Heneghan and Dr. Tom Jefferson have confessed that they “do not fully understand the ONS’s new model”.

But is it an improvement?

It comes with an apparent endorsement from Dr. Jason Oke, Senior Statistician at Oxford University’s Medical Statistics Group and a long-time collaborator of Drs. Heneghan and Jefferson. Dr. Oke said:

The excess death statistic rose from relative obscurity to prominence during the pandemic, putting it firmly in the public consciousness.

This, however, also exposed the flaws in the way it had been calculated – using historic averages, taking no account of prevailing trends or changes in the population.

As a result, excess deaths were overestimated before, during and after the pandemic.

Cambridge Emeritus Professor of Statistics Sir David Spiegelhalter was full of praise, calling it a “world-leading methodology, setting an appropriately high standard for national statistics”.

So should we, like these eminent statisticians, welcome the change?

The heavy use of modelling naturally makes anyone who’s been following data in the pandemic highly suspicious. Mathematical models are, by their nature, highly dependent on the assumptions, parameters and inputs their creators feed into them. But perhaps this one is different. Let’s see.

The ONS team has recalculated excess death estimates back to 2011 – the table is shown below. Believe it or not, 2023’s cut of more than 20,000 deaths is not the biggest change, not even close. 2016 was down by over 22,000, 2017 by 21,000, 2018 by over 24,000 and 2019 by – wait for it – over 40,000 deaths. On the face of it it’s hard to credit the claim that the old 2019 baseline was out by more than 40,000 deaths. But let’s continue.

Read More: The ONS’s New Excess Death Figures Don’t Pass the Smell Test

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