A Danish newspaper has apologised to its readers for not being critical enough in its reporting of government coronavirus case numbers.
In an article in the Ekstra Bladet tabloid last week headlined “We Failed”, journalist Brian Weichardt issued a mea culpa to the public on behalf of the media for not doing more to interrogate Covid-19 statistics.
Weichardt wrote that for nearly two years, both the press and the public had been “almost hypnotically preoccupied” with authorities’ daily coronavirus updates, obsessing over infections, hospitalisations and deaths, as the significance of the “smallest movements” was “laid out by experts, politicians and authorities, who have constantly warned us about the dormant corona monster under our beds”.
“The constant mental alertness has worn out tremendously on all of us,” he wrote. “That is why we – the press – must also take stock of our own efforts. And we have failed.”
Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. Picture: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP
He said the press had not been “vigilant enough” in questioning authorities about whether people were hospitalised “with corona and not because of corona”.
“Because it makes a difference,” he wrote.
“A big difference. Precisely, the official hospitalisation numbers have been shown to be 27 per cent higher than the actual figure for how many there are in the hospital, simply because they have corona. We only know that now.”
But he pointed the finger at authorities, saying it was they who were “first and foremost … responsible for informing the population correctly, accurately and honestly”.
“The numbers for how many are sick and died of corona should, for obvious reasons, have been published long ago, so we got the clearest picture of the monster under the bed,” he wrote.
“In all, the messages of the authorities and politicians to the people in this historic crisis leave much to be desired.”
Anti-lockdown protesters in Copenhagen on January 9, 2022. Picture: Thibault Savary/AFP
As Omicron cases skyrocket, health officials in countries including Australia, the US and Canada appear to have abruptly adopted the same messaging, emphasising that many people counted in Covid-19 hospitalisation statistics are there for other reasons.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard revealed to The Daily Telegraph earlier this month that up to half of cases being classified as Covid-19 hospitalisations “are actually people with other reasons for admission”, including broken bones, labour pains and even mental health issues.
“Heart attacks, births, falls, none of that stops just because there is Covid,” he said.
“They come into hospital, they have a swab taken and it confirms Covid. This shows us it’s out in the community, but we aren’t necessarily seeing that as the primary reason for all of the admissions.”
Late last year, White House chief medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci also stressed the distinction.
“If you look at the children [who] are hospitalised, many of them are hospitalised with Covid as opposed to because of Covid,” Dr Fauci told MSNBC.
“What we mean by that is that if a child goes in the hospital they automatically get tested for Covid and they get counted as a Covid hospitalised individual, when in fact they may go in for a broken leg or appendicitis or something like that. So it’s over-counting the number of children who are ‘hospitalised’ with Covid as opposed to because of Covid.”
A child is tested for Covid-19 in Northern Jutland, Denmark. Picture: Claus Bjoern Larsen/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP
In Canada, Ontario chief medical officer Dr Kieran Moore made nearly identical comments.
“Many individuals have noted the importance of distinguishing between patients admitted to hospital or the ICU for Covid-19, versus those admitted for other reasons such as a broken bone or appendicitis, but also test positive for Covid-19,” Dr Moore said.
“As a result, we have asked hospitals to update their daily reporting to include this important information and expect to begin receiving it, as well as adjusting our public reporting, in the coming days.”
Over the weekend, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Rochelle Walensky was grilled by Fox News host Bret Baier about the country’s reported 836,000 Covid-19 deaths.
“Do you know how many of the 836,000 deaths in the US linked to Covid are from Covid or how many are with Covid, but they had other comorbidities? Do you have that breakdown?” Baier asked Dr Walensky on Fox News Sunday.
“Yes of course, with Omicron we’re following that very carefully,” she replied. “Our death registry of course takes a few weeks … to collect. And of course Omicron has just been with us for a few weeks. But those data will be forthcoming.”
The comments frustrated some critics of the Biden administration, who have been asking about the distinction for some time.
“A shatteringly bad outing outside of the protected zone of friendly cable TV nets,” conservative polling group Rasmussen Reports wrote on Twitter.
In a subsequent interview with ABC’s Good Morning America, Dr Walensky said a recent CDC study had found more than 75 per cent of deaths in fully vaccinated people had occurred in those with at least four comorbidities.
“So really these are people who were unwell to begin with,” she said. “And yes, really encouraging news in the context of Omicron.”
However, some social media users took her comments out of context to suggest she was talking about all Covid-19 deaths.
You can watch the announcement here: https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/media/we-failed-danish-newspaper-apologises-for-not-questioning-government-covid19-numbers/news-story/5f360ab5764cf9bcfb0d8edae7160658
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