Government is using daily coronavirus death toll as a ‘propaganda tool’, claims expert

5 May 2020 — Yahoo News

Victoria Bell

Downing Street’s publication of the daily COVID-19 death toll and testing counts is a “propaganda tool” because the data “is unreliable when reported daily”, an expert has claimed.

Professor Allyson Pollock, the director of Newcastle University’s centre for excellence in regulatory science, said coronavirus has “shone a spotlight on the widening inequalities” in Britain and called for the government to revisit its public sector policies.

Her comments came during the first session of a shadow version of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which was formed amid calls for greater transparency and concerns about political interference in advice to the government.

Sir David King, a former government chief scientific adviser who has been vocal in his criticism of No. 10’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, has assembled the Independent Sage of experts to look at how the UK could work its way out of the coronavirus lockdown.

Pollock criticised austerity cuts to public services and local authorities and said that the lockdown was showing the growing and widening inequalities.

She said: “Forty per cent of our children living below the poverty line. Children are particularly affected by the lockdown.

“We know that the lockdown has had collateral damage on older people, vulnerable groups, children with learning difficulties and people with disabilities and we only see the tip of the iceberg in the excess deaths.

“I do see it as a great pity that the government used the daily death toll and the death counts and testing counts as a propaganda tool because these data are unreliable when reported, they’re inaccurate and they’re underreporting the excess deaths.”

Pollock recommended that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) publish the statistics either once a week or once a fortnight, to combat the “incoherent” data sent out to the public.

“It’s really important that the public understand that where the official statistics are gathered and how they can be misused by the government,” she said.

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