Alan Simpson: Lies, damned lies and then there are Covid modelling statistics

ONE thing we have at least learned this year is the Greek alphabet, or at least a variation of it. I think most of us could have a stab at the basics – alpha, beta, gamma and delta – before running out of steam.

But in the crazy world of Covid variants, even the ancient Greeks have come a cropper as their standard alphabet has been mangled to suit the scaremongerers’ desire for drama.

Rather than go from Alpha to Beta, it skipped a couple to go to Delta before bypassing 11 letters altogether and straight to Omicron, which is the 15th.

As there are only 24 letters in the Greek version, this could be good news as the next super-scary variant may be off the scale altogether. Either that or we have another 21 still to go.

Another thing that has become clear recently is that Mark Twain is only partially correct in his assertion that there are three types of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics. Now we can confidently add a fourth: then there are Covid statistics.

It’s as if we could hear the whoops of delight in medical labs across the country when the Omicron variant was first discovered in South Africa, as it gave them all the chance to model again.

In recent days there has been a blizzard of statistics bandied about by public health experts, so that we all get the message that Omicron is quite infectious. First up came modellers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who said that in the worst-case scenario, England will see 34.9 million cases by March, with 75,000 deaths.

To put that into context, India, which was the origin of the Delta variant, has seen 34 million cases in the 22 months of the whole pandemic.

Not to be outdone, the UK Health Security Agency then estimated that 200,000 people were infected on Monday alone and cases were set to double every day. But if that were the case then everyone in the UK would be infected in just 19 days. Job done then, pandemic effectively over.

These stats may well be based on sound scientific methods but all the way through the pandemic, the modellers’ doom-laden warnings have never come close to reality.

At times they appear to be adopting the Johnny Ball approach to economics – think of number – and then double it. 

If Lego or Airfix produced models that were so badly wrong, the companies would very quickly go bust due to a lack of credibility.

Politicians quickly jump on the modellers’ bandwagon and tighten restrictions, while begging us all to get boosters.

However, politicians are now at a very dangerous point in their relationship with the public.

For months we have been told to get vaccinated to get things back to normal and the vast majority of us have – only to be told that it was pretty much pointless as they actually don’t really work.

Where now is the incentive for the unvaccinated to get jabbed?

Public health officials seem to know an awful lot about a variant they claim to know nothing about.

It’s time they came clean and told us, rather than scaring us to comply.

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