England will now align with the rest of the UK and impose a 28-day time limit for counting deaths from COVID-19.
To date, the number of all deaths of patients who test positive for COVID-19 in the UK is now 41,329. This figure has been revised downward from 46,706.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has ordered an investigation into the methodology Public Health England (PHE) uses to collect and report daily death statistics.
Previously, anyone who ever tested positive for the virus in England was automatically counted as a coronavirus death to their death, even if their death was likely to be caused by something else.
Scotland and Wales impose a threshold of 28 days after a positive test, so any death after this period is not assumed to be linked to the virus.
Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine in Oxford, wants to see a 21-day deadline in England.
“The real job is to produce precise and accurate data and to disseminate it. Now if you do that and it’s misleading, as the government has acknowledged with data from Public Health England, it’s fair for them to say we understand now. these data are inaccurate and mislead the public.
“We’re going to take a break on this. It’s important when they do that, we don’t warn them. ”
He added: “We say it was wrong, but it is more important to fix it. We get a more appropriate measure. So, for example, in Scotland they only count deaths that occurred within 28 days of testing.
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“Now that’s what we normally do. If you have an operation, you say the death was related to that operation if it occurred within 30 days.
“If you’ve had another respiratory infection like the flu, we count it within 28 days. It is unnecessary to provide data to say that you were tested six months ago and today you walked in front of a bus and died from it. ”
The PHE figures were those reported during daily government press briefings. They were suspended in July and a review was initiated.
Sky News understands that two measures were considered to present the numbers. The first included people who died up to and including 28 days after a positive test result. The aim is to show the current trend.
The other proposed measure includes people who have died up to 60 days inclusive after a positive test result where COVID-19 is mentioned on the death certificate.
Epidemiologists say the 60-day measure is more accurate and will inspire officials to use it.
The government’s own analysis of data in England found that 96% of deaths occurred within 60 days or had COVID-19 on the death certificate. 88% of deaths occurred within 28 days.