The UK’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock has called for an urgent review into coronavirus death data in England after it was revealed reported deaths may have included people who tested positive months before their death.
The decision comes after Dr Yoon Loke, a pharmacologist at the University of East Anglia revealed Public Health England (PHE) is ‘over-exaggerating’ the daily death toll by including people who die of any cause after they’ve tested positive for COVID-19.
According to BBC News, other UK nations are only thought to include those who die within 28 days of having coronavirus.
“It seems that PHE regularly looks for people on the NHS database who have ever tested positive, and simply checks to see if they are still alive or not,” Dr Loke wrote.
“PHE does not appear to consider how long the COVID test result was, nor whether the person has been successfully treated in hospital and discharged to the community.
“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,” he added.
Dr Loke said the way PHE collects data means that “no-one with Covid in England is allowed to recover from their illness.”
“A patient who has tested positive, but successfully treated and discharged from the 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,” he said.
So far there have been more than 45,000 deaths linked to the virus in England.