Matt Hancock starts an urgent review of how PHE counts coronavirus deaths

Health Minister Matt Hancock has called for an urgent review of how Public Health England counts coronavirus deaths.

PHE "exaggerates" the daily death toll of coronaviruses because people count as victims if at any point in time after a positive test for Covid-19 they die for some reason, top scientists announced last night.

According to the way PHE collects data, people are never really cured of the disease, and all deaths are attributed to the coronavirus, regardless of its root cause.

Dr. Yoon Loke, a pharmacologist at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline that his "best guess" was that deaths from Covid-19 had been incorrectly registered in more than 1,000 people.

He warned that "this is not a good method of collecting data" has had a significant impact in the past two months, and it is because PHE "has chosen a quick and easy technique".

The statistical error is likely why the daily death toll in England hardly seems to decrease, he added in a blog post with Professor Carl Heneghan from Oxford University.

Researchers have regularly raised concerns about the way the government counts Covid-19 victims and say the numbers "vary significantly from day to day".

Dr. Loke noted that the way PHE counts victims daily is to search records of people who have had positive Covid-19 tests in the past to see if they have died.

If this is the case, her death is automatically added to the number of corona viruses – regardless of the actual cause of death.

For example, if someone tested positive in April but recovered and was hit by a bus in July, they are still counted as a Covid 19 victim.

Dr. Loke said: "According to this PHE definition, no one in England can ever recover from his illness with Covid."

He pointed out that all 292,000 people who have tested positive so far will be added to the Covid-19 death rate if PHE does not change his system when they eventually die.

The Department of Health, which uses PHE data for its daily announcements, has so far counted 45,119 deaths, 66 of which were announced yesterday.

The “statistical error” should not have a drastic impact on the total number of deaths, but it means that the ongoing death toll appears worse than reality. The National Statistics Office – which is not affected by the counting method – has confirmed that by July 3, at least 50,698 people had died in England and Wales.

Public Health England admitted that it counts the deaths of people who test positive for Covid-19 regardless of how long they die afterwards.

Dr.'s analysis Loke shows that deaths across all hires (red bar) in England are still very high, even if hospital deaths (blue bar) have decreased – two thirds of the total, according to the Office of National Statistics

Health Minister Matt Hancock has called for an urgent review of how public health England deaths are counted

Health Minister Matt Hancock has called for an urgent review of how public health England deaths are counted

Dr. Loke explained, “It appears that PHE regularly looks for people in the NHS database who have ever tested positive and simply checks to see if they are still alive or not.

& # 39; PHE does not seem to take into account how long ago the Covid test result occurred and whether the person was successfully treated in hospital and discharged to the community.

"Anyone who has tested Covid positive but later died for any reason will be included in the PHE Covid death toll …" even if they had a heart attack or were hit by a bus three months later. & # 39;

The pharmacologist, who posted his results in a blog post last night, said the bizarre way of recording deaths is why there are so big differences in daily numbers.

For example, 16 deaths were recorded on Monday, July 6, while 152 deaths were announced the next day, July 7.

The Ministry of Health has blamed low numbers on Sundays and Mondays for a “weekend effect”, which means the paperwork is not done.

However, academics are increasingly confused as to why there are such wild differences and why the number of deaths seems to remain so high.

And it just seems that everyone who dies after being enrolled in a register of people who test positive is classified as a victim.

It is currently impossible to know how many of the deaths announced by the Ministry of Health were not directly caused by Covid-19.


Public Health England was on the firing line over a series of dubious decisions made during the coronavirus pandemic.


When the first cases of coronavirus occurred in the UK, the government's policy was to test anyone who had symptoms when they returned from abroad and to track down people they had come into contact with.

On March 12, however, testing and contact tracking were completely discontinued. PHE was no longer able to test the number of people who came to the country halfway infected with the virus after traveling to Italy and France.

The decision has since been classified as catastrophic and has contributed to the devastating outbreak of Britain.


Conservative MP David Davis told MailOnline earlier this month that Public Health England had overridden and confused control over coronavirus testing.

The Tory MP said: “You totally messed up the test arrangements. They were over-centralized, over-controlled and severely restricted our ability to test. & # 39;

He warned of the decision, which was heavily criticized by top scientists at the time, and then hindered later decisions and was "just the wrong thing".

"Before the winter crisis, the government has to reorganize this, be it removing or removing some powers and handing them over to others," he added.


Public Health England had too much power over testing and contact tracking and should have delegated it to local authorities, an expert said.

Professor John Ashton, a former director of public health, said the UK should have followed Cuba's example where local teams went door-to-door to screen people for coronavirus.

He said: “Local health levels have been neglected. I think we missed an opportunity because we should have used primary care, local government and volunteers more …

"Instead, we chose a very top-down, London-centered approach."

Dr. Yoon Loke said the error occurred because Public Health England chose a "quick and easy technique".

Dr. Yoon Loke said the error occurred because Public Health England chose a "quick and easy technique".

Dr. Loke told MailOnline: “This is a very serious issue for public trust.

“If you go to social media, you will see hundreds of posts from rightly scared people petrified by the seemingly relentless, unrelenting daily death toll in England. The public is afraid.

“The public is asking why England is doing so badly, although the truth is that NHS health professionals are doing an excellent job of securing thousands of Covid survivors. The statistics here mislead the public.

& # 39; Because of this huge error in statistics and the fact that tens of thousands of older people are being monitored, there will be a very long tail of daily deaths.

& # 39; The death toll will decrease extremely slowly. It will certainly not be zero in the coming months as older people who have recovered from Covid will unfortunately still succumb to other diseases. "

Professor Carl Heneghan and Dr. Jason Oke, Oxford University researcher, who supported the work of Dr. Loke posted on their website, saying that officials appear to also be spreading historical deaths, adding only to those that are happening.

The couple pointed out that NHS England's death rates, which are accurate about three days after the date in question, are too low to match PHE's numbers.

According to the National Statistics Office, hospital deaths now account for around 60 percent of all deaths on a given day.

On June 30, NHS England had 27 deaths. If this were 60 percent of all deaths on that day, the total would be 45.

However, the Ministry of Health announced 115 more deaths that day using the data from PHE.

Dr. Loke now suggests that these massively inflated numbers are due to the fact that PHE counts people who have died outside the hospital but have not died of coronavirus at all.

He wrote: & # 39; PHE data confirm this Over 125,000 patients were enrolled for Covid in NHS hospitals, with the majority successfully treated and discharged.

“There are currently less than 1,900 patients in the hospital. Around 80,000 recovered patients in the community continue to be monitored by PHE for daily death statistics.

"More and more people (mainly in the older age group) are being released into the community, but they can clearly die from other diseases."

Dr. Loke said it was a "sensible approach" to set a three-week deadline for blaming someone for the coronavirus unless he was in the hospital.

Public Health England informed MailOnline that the World Health Organization had not set a deadline for counting deaths caused by Covid-19 and that this was "still being reviewed".

It has been admitted that coronavirus death is a death that happens to anyone who has previously tested positive, regardless of how long the test was.

The "vast majority" of deaths from Covid-19 had been correctly identified.

Dr. Loke added: “This statistical error is due to the fact that PHE chose a quick and easy technique.

& # 39; Your statistical method is pretty accurate at the beginning of the pandemic when there weren't many people in the community who survived Covid.

“However, PHE has not – and not yet – recognized that glaring inaccuracies occur when tens of thousands of frail older people are released from the hospital, and unfortunately, these Covid survivors die from other, non-Covid-related causes.

"Like most things that are a quick fix, the surveillance system eventually becomes gibberish and needs to be thoroughly redesigned to implement a permanent fix."

Public Health England declined to make an official comment.

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