Statistics chief rebukes Sturgeon claim Covid-19 five times lower in Scotland than England

First minister’s claim not based on verifiable data and should not have been made, says Office of Statistics Regulation

Nicola Sturgeon has been censured by the UK’s chief statistician after using incomplete and unpublished data to claim the coronavirus was five times less prevalent in Scotland than in England.

Ed Humpherson, the director general of the Office of Statistics Regulation, said Sturgeon’s claims earlier in July were not based on comparable or published data, and should not have been made. “The sources used to underpin this claim have been difficult to identify,” he told Sturgeon’s government.

Related: Sturgeon accuses Johnson of using Covid-19 as ‘political weapon’

The Covid-19 pandemic is currently unfolding in “one big wave” with no evidence that it follows seasonal variations common to influenza and other coronaviruses, such as the common cold, the World Health Organization has warned.

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