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Royal Statistical Society calls for data in Covid inquiry

Key aspects such as Test and Trace omitted from draft terms of reference, society says

The Royal Statistical Society has called on the government to explicitly cover how data and statistics were used in its communications with the public on Covid-19.

Responding to an open consultation, the society said the draft terms of reference for the inquiry “only refer to the availability and use of data and evidence in the context of public health decision-making”, which it said was “just one part” of the story.

Last month the Covid-19 inquiry was criticised for failing to include scientific advice and input from advisers in its planned scope.

Publishing its response along with a statement on 13 April, the society stressed “the important role that statistics and data have played in the government response to the pandemic”.

The terms of reference for the draft inquiry failed to mention data usage in government communication, for instance during the daily television briefings, the society said.

The inquiry should also consider the statistical evaluation of public health interventions such as Test and Trace, they added.

“Statistics and data should be more explicitly mentioned in the terms of reference for the UK’s official Covid inquiry,” a statement from the society read.