Thousands of Coronavirus deaths recorded in England are set to be removed from official records following an urgent review into ‘counting flaws’.
Last month UK health secretary Matt Hancock ordered an urgent review into how the daily death coronavirus counts were calculated in England after a ‘statistical flaw’ was dicovered.
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Scientists raised the alarm after they found that anyone who had tested positive, recovered and later died of other causes were included in the Public Health England numbers – even if they died after being hit by a bus months later.
The Sun reports: It means no-one can ever recover from the virus and all of England’s 265,000 confirmed cases would eventually be added to the toll.
Matt Hancock will now step in and bring the figures in line with Scotland and Northern Ireland, who only count a death as Covid-related if it occurs 28 days after a person tests positive.
A second weekly measure, which records fatalities within 60 days of infection, will also be established.
An official announcement on the new approach is expected by the end of the week.
It could see England’s official coronavirus death toll of 41,686 reduced by around as much as 10 per cent – or 4,170.
Professor Carl Heneghan, from the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, first spotted the blunder in mid-July.
He said it went some way to explaining why deaths in Scotland and Northern Ireland were zero, while in England they remained stubbornly high.
Commenting on the upcoming changes, Prof Heneghan said: “It is a sensible decision. There is no point attributing deaths to Covid 28 days after infection.
“All it does is muddy the water. While deaths are falling in Scotland, PHE data suggests matters are worse in England.
“But if it’s someone who picked up the virus in a care home in March and recovered, and last week died of a heart attack, what does that actually tell us?
“Whereas the 28 day measure lets you know the impact the virus is having on our health care system over the previous month and we can respond accordingly.
“If deaths are going down, great. And if they are up, then we need to act.
But at the moment, the figures are just confusing.”