Allison Pearson tweets misleading stats about Covid hospital patients

16 July 2021
What was claimed

The number of Covid hospitalisations is 0.5% of the level of cases.

Our verdict

The statistics used to make this claim compare positive test results when tests were first taken versus current hospitalisation figures. Because of the time it may take for symptoms to develop before hospitalisation, this is a flawed calculation.

Columnist Allison Pearson tweeted on Monday that only 0.5% of patients with Covid-19 have been hospitalised, looking at the recent weekly average of cases and hospitalisations.

This is a misleading calculation to make because of the lag between cases and hospitalisations, and, regardless, the calculation has been done incorrectly.

It's unclear but it appears Ms Pearson was looking at the data for England. When she tweeted, the seven-day average daily case count was around 26,000 (taken on 4 July).

She compares this with the seven-day average of patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 (which was 444 on 7 July, the latest data when she tweeted).

You can’t compare these numbers to calculate the hospitalisation risk of Covid. It takes time for symptoms to develop to the point someone with Covid may need to be hospitalised, meaning, they are likely to be hospitalised later than the date they were first tested.

We’re also not sure where the 0.5% proportion figure has come from either, as (although as noted these figures shouldn’t be compared) 433 is 1.67% of 26,000, not 0.5%.

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