An A&E doctor who was left 'disheartened and demoralised' after reading about one man's reasons for attending an anti-lockdown protest has spoken about the impact of Covid-19, and why he feels anti-lockdown protesters are 'cherry picking' data to fit their agendas.

The NHS key worker said he took the advice of protester Dave Burnett, from Burnley, who took part in an anti-lockdown protest in Manchester, and had a look at data for himself in order to rebuff Mr Burnett's argument that official figures about the pandemic are misleading.

The doctor, who works in an emergency department in the North West, and did not wish to be named, said: "As an A&E doctor dealing with seriously ill Covid patients, I found it disheartening and demoralising to read about Mr Burnett so I’d now like to present my findings."

Burnley man speaks out on why he attended anti-lockdown protest in Manchester

In the first instance, the doctor said Mr Burnett had misunderstood what 'underlying health condition' meant, particularly in his insistence that only 1,614 people had died from Covid-19 in the UK.

"He appears to reach this number by excluding anyone with an ‘underlying health condition’, presumably because he's misunderstood what this term means," said the doctor, "it does not mean that someone has died of something else whilst coincidentally having Covid-19, it means that the patient had some other health problem.

"This could be anything from an immediately life-threatening condition to a long-term, stable, condition such as diabetes.

"The most common co-morbidity in people to have died of Covid-19 is dementia - which is obviously a life-limiting condition often associated with a big reduction in quality of life.

"However, also in the top five are diabetes and high blood pressure."

Lancashire Telegraph:

The doctor explained that through his speculations, Mr Burnett had assumed that if a person takes tablets each morning for high blood pressure or diabetes then their death should be excluded from official counts.

He continued: "This is a completely indefensible position which amounts to ‘figure fiddling’ to suppress the true death toll.

"The number of people in England and Wales who have Covid-19 listed on their medical certificate of cause of death by the certifying doctor ‘to the best of their knowledge and belief’ is now 57,994.

"The judgement of the certifying doctor is never going to be completely infallible so a useful check on this is to simply look at the total number of people dying.

"If Covid-19 had really only killed 1,614 people in the UK then we’d expect the total number of deaths this year to be similar to previous years.

"Mr Burnett states 'if you look at the death rate for 2020 and compare it to the death rate last year, there is not much of a difference'.

"If you compare deaths this year to the average of the same period over the last five years we have an excess of 58,579 deaths.

"This number is remarkably similar to the number of dead people with Covid-19 on their MCCD.

"Mr Burnett has understated the death toll by about 56,000 people."

The doctor says a graph from Public Health England's weekly all cause mortality report is a useful visual representation of the difference between the usual seasonal increase in mortality over winter and the scale of what happened in spring.

Lancashire Telegraph:

He said: "Until March the y-axis only went to 14,000. They had to extend it to fit the Covid mortality spike on.

"The black line shows the number of people dying each week for the last four years, the blue line is the ‘expected’ number of deaths, anything above red is considered significantly abnormal.

"The recent weeks numbers will be revised upwards as not all deaths will yet have been registered so don’t be reassured by the downwards deflection at the end - it’s about to go up significantly."

The picture so far also takes into account the effect of lockdown restrictions, but should not be taken lightly as there needs to be continued consideration into where we go as a country from here.

Alongside this is the presumption that everyone has access to appropriate medical care, but it's professionals such as the doctor who have to make difficult decisions about who gets access to beds, and sometimes even oxygen.

Lancashire Telegraph:

He added: "Anyone who thinks that this is ‘scaremongering’ should have a look at what happened in Bergamo and bear in mind that Italy has about 25 percent more hospital beds per head of population than the UK.

"Of course, there are debates to be had regarding how best to manage this crisis and how to mitigate the damage to our health, wellbeing and economic security but unfortunately, the approach of people like Mr Burnett adds absolutely nothing to any sensible discussion of how to proceed.

"There is now an end in sight as it's likely an effective vaccine will be available for widespread use within the next few months.

"What matters now is that we minimise the damage in the meantime.

"What we cannot do is have people ‘take their chances’.

"Mr Burnett knows he can't convince the UK population to take his approach, so as is typically the case with ‘lockdown sceptics’ what we get instead is a mix of half-truths, misinterpretations and statistical cherry-picking."

The doctor said it's important that people understand that the reason very few people within the scientific and medical communities agree with people like Mr Burnett is not that they are engaged in some kind of conspiracy, or that they're unaware of the arguments he makes, but that people like Mr Burnett are consistently and repeatedly wrong.