icnarc highlights – an actuary explains what the data is telling us (April 17)


Screenshot 2020-04-13 at 06.18.35

Thanks to Stuart McDonald for this excellent thread; I have replaced his original tweet 10 with a later tweet- necessarily this tweet explain typos that don’t appear on the thread – I know Stuart would be mortified if I republished any error – the error was tiny – and I missed it (til he pointed it out).

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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3 Responses to icnarc highlights – an actuary explains what the data is telling us (April 17)

  1. Ros Altmann says:

    Thanks for posting this Henry. There are so many statistics and they may all be misleading as we do not know how many people actually have Covid-19 without reliable testing, nor do these figures show numbers with ‘viral pneumonia’ in 2020 – although the figures may be assuming everyone with Covid has viral pneumonia. I am not sure how the figures are compiled. However, what is striking is that the actual numbers in Table 1 with ‘Covid 19 and 24th data’ are much lower than the numbers shown for viral pneumonia in 2017-2019. It is not clear what is being compared with what here, what the dates are for each column or how to make any comparison. Do you know what dates and underlying data Table 1 relate to? So sorry but I don’t have the source information and tracking all this is really important.
    Thank you for all your blogs.
    Be well

    • Stuart McDonald says:


      The full report can be found here: https://www.icnarc.org/DataServices/Attachments/Download/c9b491af-ea80-ea11-9124-00505601089b

      Pneumonia leading to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome is one mechanism through which COVID-19 kills. Hence, to assist with comparisons the ICNARC include a cohort of (non-COVID) viral pneumonia patients from 2017-19.

      Don’t look at the absolute numbers. They happen to be reasonably similar this week but that’s just coincidence (they show the same cohort of 5782 cases every week). Look at the distributions (as I have done in the thread).

      So average age similar, C19 patients much more likely to be male, C19 more likely to have BMI>30, etc.

      Hope that helps.


  2. henry tapper says:

    Ros – normally I’d attempt an answer, but as Stuart is very attentive . I will see if we can get a response from him!

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