UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has ordered an “urgent review” into how Public Health England (PHE) calculates coronavirus death figures. It comes after two UK-based scientists highlighted the serious flaw in PHE’s statistics.
Hancock called for an investigation on Friday after confirmation that Covid-19 fatality figures for England include people who tested positive for the deadly virus months before they died. However, in other UK nations such as Scotland and Northern Ireland, they only include deaths in their daily count if someone died within 28 days of testing positive for the disease.
The critical difference in how deaths are recorded may explain why England’s death toll has remained higher than its neighboring nations.
It follows an astonishing article published on Thursday by University of East Anglia professor Yoon K Loke and Carl Heneghan, a professor of evidence-based medicine at Oxford University.
The analysis conducted by the two scientific statisticians showed that PHE has been recording the deaths of people who have previously tested positive for the disease as a coronavirus death – no matter if they had fully recovered from the virus before they died.