What Removing 5,000 Deaths From England's Coronavirus Death Toll Means

Graeme Demianyk
·2-min read

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A review of how Covid-19 deaths are calculated in England has reduced the UK death toll by more than 5,000.

Public Health England (PHE) had been recording coronavirus deaths where a positive test had occurred at any point, meaning a patient could never be classed as having recovered.

The government will now move to publishing deaths as related to Covid-19 only when the loss of life was within 28 days of diagnosis.

Why was publication of the daily death figure paused?

Health secretary Matt Hancock ordered an urgent review into how PHE calculated Covid-19 death figures after researchers criticised “statistical flaws” in the way England’s deaths were reported.

Professors Yoon Loke and Carl Heneghan raised concerns that anyone who had ever tested positive for Covid-19 and then died was included in England’s death figures – even if they have died from something else.

They said that no patient was allowed to recover from the virus because “anyone who has tested Covid positive but subsequently died at a later date of any cause will be included” in the data.

Loke told HuffPost UK at the time: “The problem is that when we look at the hospitals’ data we see that actually fewer and fewer people are dying in hospital due to coronavirus, and yet several days a week we see in the press that hundreds of people are still reported as having died outside of hospital.

“A lot of members of the public are quite terrified by this and wondering: ‘Who are these people, and why are they dying?’

“When we looked at the data we realised that the NHS had actually been very successful and discharged about 80,000 patients back to their home but despite these patients having recovered PHE are still monitoring these people and if they die of an unrelated condition PHE will still put them in the daily figures.”

England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all report...

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