Health secretary Matt Hancock has called for an “urgent” review into an official tally of coronavirus deaths that has been revealed to include people dying of other causes.
Public Health England (PHE) included people who tested positive for Covid-19 but died from other causes in its stats of coronavirus deaths in the country, the Evening Standard first reported.
“The health secretary has asked Public Health England to conduct an urgent review into the reporting of deaths statistics, aimed at providing greater clarity on the number of fatalities related to Covid-19 as we move past the peak of the virus,” a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told City A.M.
Order-Order also reported that England’s daily average coronavirus death rate of 72 could be inflated by as much as 100 per cent as a result. That would mean fewer than an average of 40 people are dying of coronavirus each day.
A source told the Standard: “We noticed that hospital deaths were falling but community deaths were up and wondered why.
“It turns out you could have been tested positive in February, recovered, then hit by a bus in July and you’d be recorded as a covid death.”
PHE responded by saying there is no one way of counting coronavirus deaths.
“In England, we count all those that have died who had a positive Covid-19 test at any point, to ensure our data is as complete as possible,” PHW incident director Dr Susan Hopkins said.
“We must remember that this is a new and emerging infection and there is increasing evidence of long term health problems for some of those affected. Whilst this knowledge is growing, now is the right time to review how deaths are calculated.”
Some nations’ death tallies do not count deaths 28 days after a positive coronavirus deaths but PHE does count these fatalities.
And those who have had Covid-19 but it was not recorded as a cause of death are also included in PHE stats.
The Department of Health’s tally of coronavirus deaths is lower than other tallies. Yesterday it counted a total of 45,119 UK Covid-19 deaths. A Reuters count including suspected deaths puts the number at 56,000.