Nicola Sturgeon has dismissed a “flawed” report from a think tank founded by Gordon Brown which suggested Scotland’s coronavirus detection rate was the worst in the UK.
Research by Our Scottish Future – which was set up by the former Labour prime minister – found that only around 32% of cases north of the Border are being picked up by tests.
The group compared daily rates for positive coronavirus tests with Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates of the total number of people who had the virus.
Over a six-week period ending January 2 the ONS estimated a daily average of around 43,379 people in Scotland had Covid-19, including asymptomatic cases, based on statistical modelling of population samples.
Over the same time period, Scotland’s testing programmes picked up a rolling average of 13,650 cases.
Our Scottish Future claimed this meant 32% of the total cases are being picked up – with the equivalent figure for England being 41% while Wales was at 70% and Northern Ireland at 81%.
But both the First Minister and Scotland’s clinical director hit out at the methology used to reach some a conclusion.
Speaking at her daily media briefing, the SNP leader said: “We would take serious issue with the methodology used to get to the specific conclusions – for example, it mixes up prevalence and incidence, which is not an appropriate thing to.
“We have significant issues with the methodology, which means we would question the conclusions with Scotland’s performance here compared to others.
“More generally, not every person with covid in the country features in our confirmed cases. Because not everybody gets tested. So there is always an assumption the true level of infection is higher than the numbers we are reporting here.”
Clinical director Jason Leitch said: “They have confused two statistical elements which I think is unfair.
“They have confused prevalence – which is how much disease you have in your country, which is a modelled number, you can’t ever know – with incidence, which comes from positive tests.
“They’ve then subtracted one from the other and come up with a percentage, as if that is how much we find. I don’t think it’s statistically correct.”