Using Statistics to Understand the Pandemic – and What Will Come Next

Radical Statistics

2021 Conference and AGM

Saturday, 27 February 9:30am-4:30pm

Via Zoom

Registration for the conference is FREE.
(But please consider a donation toward organising costs. See below.)

Session One 9.30 – 10.30 Chair Stefanie Doebler

Sally Ruane on What Statistics Tell Us About the State of the NHS When COVID Hit AND How It Got to that State

This presentation will describe the trajectory of the English NHS, and in particular the hospital components of that that system, towards the condition in which it was at the time the COVID pandemic hit it. Data allows us to construct a narrative of change. If we see the changes then we can start to consider what it was that drove them and if the consequence was a system very poorly prepared for a Pandemic infection AND for the necessity for many people to have relatively long hospital stays.

Session Two 10.30 – 11.30 Chair David Lamb

Pouria Hadjibagheri (PHE) on COVID-19 dashboard – Building an Open and Transparent Data Platform

With over a million unique visitors each day and serving up to 76 million requests a day, the UK Coronavirus Dashboard has become a vital service in the current pandemic for both professionals and the public. The dashboard is designed, implemented, and maintained by civil servants at Public Health England.

The aim of this talk is to provide a high-level insight into the dashboard and what goes on the background.

Session Three 11.30 – 12.30 Chair David Byrne

Jennifer Badham on Real Time Modelling of COVID in Conjunction with Public Health at Local Levels

I will be talking about JuSt-Social, a model developed to support local planners in NE England by projecting plausible responses to policy interventions like social distancing. The presentation focuses on the changing relationship between policy, model and data as the epidemic has developed.

Lunch   12.30 – 1.00

Session Four 1.00 – 2.00 Chair Diana Kornbrot

Mike Sandys (Director of Public Health for Leicestershire CC) on How a Director of Public Health Has Engaged with Data During COVID and What Issues Have Been Experienced

Mike will present a brief summary of the data, and the timeline for availability, a typical Local Authority Public Health Department uses, alongside partners in the County Council, Public Health England, districts and the Police, to inform a response to COVID-19.  He will outline the issues that the timeline of availability has posed in public communication and response.

The session will go on to  explore how publicly available data shapes the public perception of threat and risk locally and will explore to what extent area based data, and the public reaction to it, shapes a local response to the pandemic.

Andrei Morgan on The Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on Perinatal Activity

During 2020, the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) outbreak caused major disruption to everyday life and work globally. Evidence from previous pandemics indicates health impacts arise both from direct consequences of the infective agent as well as due to secondary effects on health care organisation. Early in the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, it was suggested there were decreased preterm birth rates. Anecdotal reports also described fewer antenatal and postnatal interhospital transfers occurring. This talk will examine the evidence for an impact of SARS-CoV-2 on maternal and infant health and discuss possible contributory factors.

Session Five 2.00 – 3.00 Chair Sally Ruane

Ted Schrecker on Health Inequality in a Post-pandemic World: The Real Grand Challenges

Drawing mainly on material from the UK and the United States, I will outline the growth of economic inequality before the pandemic, and argue that these trends and the underlying policy drivers and political priorities contributed to the pandemic’s unequal impact.  I will then sketch out four stylised scenarios for post-pandemic recovery, keeping in mind that recovery will probably combine elements of all of these.  Unfortunately, the current political environment makes an equitable path to ‘building back better’ unlikely.

Concluding Session 3.00 – 4.00

After COVID – Where now for Radical Statistics?

This will be an open discussion. COVID has changed governance, especially but not only governance’s engagement with public health and health systems. Statistical information of all kinds is vital for understanding the character of these changes and their wider implications, particularly for social inequalities widely defined. There are also issues in relation to the nature of statistical techniques and the way “Big Data” (although it may well be that large administrative data sets, not big data in a conventional sense) changes the way we use data to describe, understand and ACT in the world. The session will  not only be open but is intended to open up consideration of these issues.


2021 Annual General Meeting

Saturday, 27 February 4:00 – 5:00 PM

All members and interested participants are welcomed warmly.


Join in for an informal social drinks event on Friday, 26 February at 7:00 PM
Meet old and new members to discuss the conference themes and more.

And – if you’re not completely comfortable joining Zoom events,
this is a relaxed place to practice. Help will be available if needed.


Please donate to help cover costs:

Suggested donation amount:
£20+ Supporter     £10 Low-income     Free for students
Radstats runs on a miniscule budget and small amounts make a great difference.
Any amount is gratefully accepted.