Coronavirus: Data expert says UK is likely to become the worst affected country worldwide

26 May 2020, 14:55 | Updated: 26 May 2020, 15:04

By Fiona Jones

This data journalist told LBC that the UK is highly likely to become the worst affected country globally in terms of coronavirus deaths.

Coronavirus-related deaths in England and Wales have exceeded 40,000, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The latest report shows 41,200 deaths were registered between December and May 15 with coronavirus mentioned on the death certificate.

"What is becoming increasingly clear is with every week that this data comes out is that the UK is highly likely now to end up one of, if not the, very worst affected countries. Not in Europe but worldwide in terms of deaths from COVID-19," said senior data journalist John Burn-Murdoch.

"Each week is underlining that rather than changing the picture."

Coronavirus: "UK is highly likely to become the worst affected country globally"
Coronavirus: "UK is highly likely to become the worst affected country globally". Picture: LBC/PA

Mr Burn-Murdoch explained that we should look at multiple measurements to ascertain how countries compare: "The difficulty is every time you change the measure from total number of deaths per million, it changes the top line.

"The UK is second only to the US in terms of numbers of reported COVID deaths. And of course the US is a much much larger, much more populous country and so if one does adjust the population than the UK does go above the US."

Mr Burn-Murdoch said that because of the way this virus spreads, it doesn't necessarily follow that a larger country would have more deaths.

He caveated that due to the highly politicised narrative surrounding the virus, there is a danger people pick whichever statistic suits the point they wish to make.

"Whatever stat someone is using it's undeniable the UK is at the top of the table no one wants to be top of. In the top one two or three. Whether you use population adjusted numbers or's worth taking account of all of these different measures," Mr Burn-Murdoch.

"The question becomes is the UK the worst, the second worst or the third worst, but the UK is definitely up there," he said.

He pointed to figures which show the UK is currently at 60,000 more deaths than the average death toll would show from previous years, second only to the US.

Mr Burn-Murdoch said whichever way you look at it, "There's no question that this country is going to end up looking like one of the most badly affected countries."