The United Kingdom’s Health Minister Matt Hancock called for a review into how England has reported COVID-19 death, with several academics claiming that the daily figures might include some people that have died due to other causes on Friday.
According to two academics, the way that Public Health England, the government agency which is currently responsible for managing and reporting infectious disease outbreaks, calculates the death toll might make it seem that the situation in England might be worse than other parts of the UK.
So far, the UK is the worst hit European country, having an official death toll that tallies up to more than 45,000.
However, the government has stated that international comparisons could be misleading due to different countries recording deaths caused by the virus differently.
Yoon Loke and Carl Heneghan, from the University of East Anglia and the University of Oxford respectively, have stated that the way that Public Health England checks the number of deaths could lead to statistics showing that anyone who had died and had tested positive for the virus could be recorded as dying solely because of the virus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed during a press conference on Friday that “Matt Hancock is going to be doing a review of those statistics with Public Health England.”
In their blog ‘Why no-one can recover from COVID-19 in England’, the two academics said that those patients that tested positive for coronavirus, and then recover, will still be recorded as having died from the virus if they “had a heart attack or were run over by a bus three months later”.
They claimed that this was the main reason as to why the death toll of England varies daily by such a substantial amount.
This approach is not used in other parts of the UK, as in Scotland, a 28-day cut-off is used, where if a patient dies after those 28 days, then that person will not be considered to have died because of coronavirus.
The variations in amounts are drastic, as for example on July 13, 11 people were said to have died because of the virus, whilst on July 14, that number rose to a staggering 138.