17 Jul: BBC: Hancock calls for urgent review into coronavirus death data in England
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has called for an urgent review into how coronavirus deaths have been recorded in England.
It follows confirmation from Public Health England that reported deaths may have included people who tested positive months before they died.
Other UK nations only include those who die within 28 days of a positive test.
Officials say the publication of daily death figures will be paused while the issue was “resolved”...
A note on the government’s website read: “Currently the daily deaths measure counts all people who have tested positive for coronavirus and since died, with no cut-off between time of testing and date of death...
Prof Carl Heneghan from University of Oxford, who spotted the issue with the data, told the BBC there was “huge variation” in the numbers of daily deaths reported in England by PHE.
While NHS England currently reports 30-35 deaths per day, Public Health England (PHE) data often shows double that or more, he said.
The reason is that anyone who has tested positive for coronavirus but then died at a later date of another cause would still be included in PHE’s Covid-19 death figures.
“By this PHE definition, no one with Covid in England is allowed to ever recover from their illness,” Prof Heneghan says.
“We need correct and accurate statistics so we can really understand the trend - otherwise it’s very difficult to know what’s going on,” he added.
Figures release from PHE today show that just under 10% of coronavirus deaths in England happened more than 28 days after a positive test.
In almost half of those cases, Covid-19 was recorded as the main cause of death...
Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales only include deaths in their daily count if someone died within 28 days of a positive test...
Dr Susan Hopkins, from Public Health England, said there was no agreed method of counting deaths from Covid-19.
“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...
17 Jul: UK Telegraph: Matt Hancock launches inquiry into true PHE coronavirus death figures
Government source says car accident fatality could have been counted, raising concerns true toll of virus has been inflated
By Henry Bodkin
16 Jul: The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine: Why no-one can ever recover from COVID-19 in England a statistical anomaly
by Yoon K Loke, Carl Heneghan
People living in England have become increasingly concerned in the face of Public Health Englands (PHE) figures demonstrating a relentless daily toll of more than a hundred COVID-associated deaths several days a week (see Figure 1).
This is in stark contrast to the more reassuring recovery in neighbouring regions (Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), where there are days with no COVID-associated deaths whatsoever.
One reason for this due is a statistical flaw in the way that PHE compiles out of hospital deaths data, rather than any genuine difference between the regions of the UK...
Anyone who has tested COVID positive but subsequently died at a later date of any cause will be included on the PHE COVID death figures.
By this PHE definition, no one with COVID in England is allowed to ever recover from their illness. A patient who has tested positive, but successfully treated and discharged from hospital, will still be counted as a COVID death even if they had a heart attack or were run over by a bus three months later...
PHE data also confirm that more than 125 000 patients have been admitted to NHS hospitals for COVID, the majority being successfully treated and discharged. There are now less than 1900 patients in hospital. So, roughly 80 000 recovered patients in the community will continue being monitored by PHE for the daily death statistics. More and more people (who are mainly in the older age group) are being discharged to the community, but they clearly may die of other illnesses.
This is why out of hospital setting deaths remain constantly high (Figure 1), even though the Office of National Statistics data shows there have been fewer deaths than the five year average in the last three weeks, and NHS England data shows a moving average of 19 deaths per day in hospital...