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David NorgroveNicola SturgeonOffice for National StatisticsMakes Statement

ONS: Sturgeon correct to say English covid rate 20% more than Scotland

25 Jan, 2022

The ONS says Sturgeon was correct when she said England’s coronavirus infection rate was more than 20 per cent higher than in Scotland. The First Minister was accused of having “seriously twisted” the Covid figures by the Lib Dems who reported her to the UK Statistics Authority. ONS figures show 5.47 per cent of people in England are infected compared to 4.49% in Scotland – a difference of 0.98 percentage points or 21.8 per cent. ONS Chairman Norgrove:

The data does suggest that the rate of infection is lower in Scotland than in England. The distinction between percentages (parts per hundred) and percentage points (the simple difference between two percentages) can be made easier to understand by quoting the two numbers being compared. For clarity, when publishing results from CIS, the Office for National Statistics gives the absolute number of people with Covid-19; the percentage of the population with Covid-19; and the number of people with Covid-19 as a ratio to the whole population. For example, one in 20 people.


What matters is that Scotland is doing better now than we were doing before Christmas and better now than we might have been doing had we not taken action to stem transmission. That is what is important. How we are faring relative to England or anywhere else is not, in my view, the key comparison. But, given that others have sought to draw that comparison – inaccurately – in an attempt to undermine confidence in the Scottish Government’s decisions, I hope all members will now accept the conclusion of the chair of the UK statistics authority that the data I cited was, indeed, accurate.

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