Boris Johnson accused of ‘misleading’ public over vaccine data sparking watchdog probe

Boris Johnson accused of ‘misleading’ public over vaccine data sparking watchdog probe

 

The statistics watchdog has contacted Boris Johnson after he was accused of misleading the public about vaccine data in a coronavirus briefing.

It highlighted a statement he made at a Downing Street press conference that all eligible residents in care homes had received their first dose.

At the time almost 25,000 people judged fit to have the jab were still waiting to get one.

On February 3, Mr Johnson said: “We have today passed the milestone of 10 million vaccinations in the United Kingdom, including almost 90 per cent of those aged 75 and over in England and every eligible person in a care home.”

When he spoke, 260,066 people in care homes were suitable for the vaccine but only 236,499 had been given their first dose.

The Sunday People understands that the error was brought to the attention of the Office for Statistics Regulation following a complaint from a member of the public.

In a letter seen by this newspaper, the regulator told the complainant: “Rather than every eligible person in a care home having received the vaccine, residents at every eligible home have been offered a vaccine.

“Despite this it is still not clear whether all residents at these homes or just a proportion of them have been offered a vaccine.

“It is also not clear how many residents have been offered a vaccine but have not taken it up.

“Based on the information available it is our view that the statement painted a more positive picture than the data supports.

“In addition to our published statement we have contacted the Prime Minister’s Office to highlight this use of statistics.

“We will continue to monitor the use of unpublished information in public statements and will intervene publicly should the situation persist.”

In total, there are more than 290,000 care home residents in England but some have been judged ineligible for vaccination.

This includes people who tested positive for Covidwithin the previous 28 days and those who cannot be visited due to outbreaks in their homes. Some are advised not to have the vaccine for medical reasons.

This week’s figures show 270,485 are eligible but only 256,714 have had their first dose, meaning 13,000 have yet to receive an inoculation.

Mr Johnson has previously been criticised by the watchdog, which is part of the UK Statistics Authority.

His claim that the Government would have an extra £350million a week to spend on things such as the NHS after leaving the EU was shot down as misleading.

The Government said: “We have been working tirelessly to vaccinate those most at risk as quickly as possible, with over 17 million people given their first dose.”

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