Carl Heneghan

Carl Heneghan is professor of evidence-based medicine at the University of Oxford and director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine

The Covid farce

38 min listen

This week: The Covid Inquiry has reached its more dramatic stage this week with the likes of Domic Cummings, Lee Cain and Martin Reynolds giving evidence. But in his cover piece for the magazine Carl Heneghan, professor of evidence-based medicine at the University of Oxford and director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, says that

We needed a Covid inquiry – but this isn’t it

What is the point of the Covid Inquiry? It should be to establish which parts of the government’s pandemic response worked, which parts didn’t, and what to do next time. Instead, it is a farce – a spectacle of hysteria, name-calling and trivialities. The stakes could hardly be higher. Lockdown was the most disruptive policy

The ten worst Covid decision-making failures

Dealing with a pandemic requires a clear aim, planning, intelligence and supreme flexibility to react to the unknown. However, ever since reports broke in the West of a newly-identified virus in Wuhan in January, this has not been the case in Britain. The result? We have suffered a very high death toll, and substantial social

It’s time to fix the NHS’s looming winter crisis

My patient has sepsis. The window for treatment is short; in less than an hour, he could die. In urgent care, the direct line to ambulance control bypasses 999: it lets the call handler know a doctor requires urgent attention for a sick patient. Ten minutes: no response. I’m on a second phone to central dispatch:

The hidden death toll of lockdown

The last patient I treated was 105 years old. She has lived through two world wars, a depression and at least five pandemics. It’s a real honour to treat centenarians. They teach me much about life: how it is and how it ends. I can also lighten the mood with my 80-year-old patients by telling

Can Boris be reinfected with Covid?

Boris Johnson is self-isolating in Downing Street after hosting an MP who subsequently tested positive for Covid-19. As we all know, Johnson has already been affected by SARS-Co-V2. So can the Prime Minister, who has presumably built immunity to this virus, be reinfected? For once the answer is clear: it’s possible. We know this thanks

How many people are catching Covid in hospital?

One aspect of the original outbreak of coronavirus in March and April that has not received enough attention was the spread of the virus in NHS hospitals. With NHS staff lacking Personal Protective Equipment – and as we know now, suffering from a lack of preparedness – the virus spread at rapid speed between people

The nine worst Covid-19 biases

We all suffer from cognitive biases that cloud our judgment and lead us to the wrong conclusions. But now that we are in the middle of a pandemic, and restrictions are being put in place that have a profound impact on people’s lives, it is more important than ever that we look to the evidence

The long winter – why Covid restrictions could last until April

39 min listen

Why does the government think the second wave will be worse than the first? (00:49) Will a Biden presidency restore America’s fortunes? (18:45) And finally, does Covid mark the end for the silver screen? (30:10) Spectator editor Fraser Nelson talks to Carl Heneghan, professor of evidence-based medicine at the University of Oxford; editor of The

Lockdown cycles

The appearance of SARS CoV-2 has been deemed worthy of extraordinary measures to contain or suppress its spread. With a rise in infections across Europe, politicians are once again scrambling to reintroduce a series of policies that amount to lockdown in all but name. France has introduced a curfew. Italy has made the wearing of

Following the evidence for hospital admissions

The recent warnings of exponential growth of Covid-19 cases, inevitably followed by a rise in hospital admissions, is one focus of the Government’s Covid messaging. Jeremy Hunt described this spike in admissions as a ‘wake-up call’ for the Government. But while this year the disease is newly identified, warnings of a winter crisis in the

How is the Vallance Covid projection working out?

Prediction, projection, illustration — call it what you wish, but when you make a statement about what’s going to happen next, people are going to assess whether you’re correct or not. Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Adviser, said last week:  At the moment we think that the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days…If, and

The rule of four: how to make sense of Covid case numbers

Are Covid cases doubling or not? And if so, in what time frame? If you listened to Boris Johnson and chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance, you’d be forgiven for being confused. The Prime Minister said this week:  ‘The chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser warned that the doubling rate for new cases could be between seven and

Boris’s ‘whack-a-mole’ Covid strategy is failing

Will the current cycle – lockdown; open up; eat out; restrictions; lockdown – go on forever? In their handling of coronavirus, Boris Johnson and his colleagues have become increasingly media-responsive, fear-bound, model-sensitive, sound-byte producing, u-turn prone and, quite frankly, embarrassing to all who believed the UK to be a beacon of rational thought. Has the

What does a case of Covid-19 really mean?

‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,’ wrote the Bard. He was referring to a rose which is a rose, instantly recognised by its fragrance and its appearance. But a case of Covid-19 does not fit the metaphor, because it differs wherever you look.

Boris Johnson needs to bin the rule of six

When Boris Johnson returned to work in April after his brush with coronavirus, he warned that lockdown restrictions must remain to prevent a second wave. Ever since, beset by anxieties, doubts and fear, and surrounded by a platoon of advisors, the PM has made one cautious, catastrophic error after another. Last week’s roll of the

Covid-19 cases and the weekend effect

There’s significant mounting interest in the increase in detected cases in the UK. However, it’s worth looking at the data to try and understand what is going on. First, it is essential to analyse cases by the date the specimen was taken, as opposed to reported. The second vital thing to do is to observe

Covid-19 and the end of clinical medicine as we know it

When we trained at medical school we were taught to approach each patient on his or her own merits. We were taught to take a history: ask questions about past medical problems, drugs and present complaints; to do a physical examination and make a management plan including those tests that allowed us to narrow the

It’s a mistake to think all positive Covid tests are the same

Italy was the first country in Europe to implement lockdown, so what can we learn from the country’s attempt to impose restrictions to stamp out Covid-19? And what does Italy’s experience of finding a path out of lockdown teach Britain as it emerges out of lockdown itself? Ten towns in the province of Lodi, Lombardy, and