The official count of coronavirus deaths by the government is too high, and fewer than 40 people die each day, two top statisticians have claimed.
Ministry of Health officials had 85 British died yesterday, along with 138 on Tuesday, and the daily average for the past week is 75.
But experts at Oxford University say these numbers are too high and confuse the true state of the British Covid-19 outbreak.
The way in which officials aggregate historical deaths on random days – and include fatalities that happened weeks or even months ago – gives a misleading picture.
Dr. Jason Oke and Professor Carl Heneghan said that Public Health England figures – published by the Department of Health every day – contain “inaccuracies” and can cause confusion.
The number of deaths is still decreasing, the professors said, even though it was slower than earlier in the crisis.
The government has pointed out in the past that it counts deaths by the date the paperwork is completed, not when the person actually dies, which can make daily figures inaccurate. The number is particularly low on weekends and public holidays.
Dr. Okay and Professor Heneghan said the government should make it clearer when people actually died so that a one-day outbreak – for example, the 138 deaths announced Tuesday – doesn’t make the outbreak seem worse.
Data shows that the trend of deaths charted when they actually occurred (dotted blue line), not when the paperwork was completed, is significantly lower than the number of deaths announced by the Department of Health (red line)
Dr. Jason Oke and Professor Carl Heneghan, of the University of Oxford, said the death data published by Public Health England contains “inaccuracies” and may cause confusion.
Dr. Okay and Professor Heneghan wrote in a blog: ‘What has become clear in recent weeks is the increasing inequality between the figures released by US [Office for National Statistics] and those reported by Public Health England and widely circulated in the media. ‘
They said PHE’s numbers’ vary significantly from day to day ‘and explained:’ This variation is most likely due to the appearance of ‘historical’ deaths that occurred weeks earlier, but for some reason that unknown, are reported in batches over certain days.
To counter this variation, a moving average softens the trend, but even this is at odds with the ONS data …
“We can assume that the total number of deaths in all institutions is about 40 per day, much closer to the US figures.”
To explain their calculations, Dr. Okay and Professor Heneghan of the University’s Center for Evidence-Based Medicine, the death toll recorded by Public Health England (PHE) and the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
PHE only counts deaths in people who have tested positive for Covid-19, which means that thousands of people were missed at the beginning of the epidemic.
Meanwhile, the US counts everyone who has the disease listed on their death certificate, whether tested or not.
Dr. Okay and Professor Heneghan said that even the moving average of PHE, which is intended to smooth out dips and peaks around the weekend, is too high.
It was 103 before June 30, they said, but the US added 101 deaths (on the actual date of death) on June 30 and July 1, making the two-day average 51.
They said, “The average of PHE figures has been consistently higher than US for some time.”
The official daily death counts announced to the public have ‘inaccuracies’ and don’t really reflect current times, statisticians say
US data shows that significantly more people have died than the Department of Health has counted. This is thought to be largely due to the fact that it only counted people who tested positive, but the residents of care homes did not have tests tested during the peak of the outbreak
The pair also noted NHS England’s death counts, which are about three days after the date in question, are too low to match PHE.
According to the ONS, hospital deaths now make up about 60 percent of all deaths that occur on a given day.
On June 30, NHS England registered 27 fatalities. If this were 60 percent of all deaths on that day, the total would be 45.
However, based on PHE data, that day, the Department of Health reported 115 deaths.
Professor Heneghan and Dr. Okay recognized that the official counts of deaths are constantly retroactive, so do not reflect the day they are announced, but suggest that historical fatalities are spread.
“Due to the inaccuracies in PHE data, we recommend using ONS data and the NHS England data to understand trends in deaths over time,” they wrote.
To reduce confusion, we require all deaths reported by PHE to be counted when they occurred, as opposed to the day of reporting.
MailOnline has contacted the Department of Health for comment.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE REALLY DYED FROM THE CORONAVIRUS IN THE UK?
Ministry of Health: 45,053
The Department of Health’s latest mortality rate for all institutions (as of 9:00 AM, July 15) is 45,053.
The daily data does not reflect how many Covid-19 patients have died in the past 24 hours – it is just how many fatalities have been reported and registered with the authorities.
Also, only patients who have tested positive for the virus are taken into account, as opposed to deaths suspected to be due to the coronavirus.
National Statistical Authorities: 55.216
Data collected by the statistical authorities of each of the home countries show that at the end of May, throughout the UK, 55,216 people died of confirmed or suspected Covid-19.
The Office for National Statistics yesterday confirmed that 50,219 people in England and Wales died on June 19 with confirmed or suspected Covid-19.
The coronavirus death rate was 824 the same day in Northern Ireland, according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).
National Records Scotland – which collects statistics north of the border – said 4,173 people had died across the country on June 22.
Their numbers are always 10 days behind the Department of Health (DH) because they wait until as many fatalities as possible are counted for each date to avoid revising their statistics.
Excess deaths: 65,249
The total number of excess deaths has now risen to 65,000.
Excess deaths are considered an accurate measure of the number of people killed by the pandemic as they cover a wider spectrum of victims.
In addition to including people who may have died with Covid-19 without ever being tested, the data also shows how many more people died because, for example, their medical treatment was delayed or could not or could not come to the hospital if they were serious sick.
Data from England and Wales show that there were 59,324 additional deaths between March 15 and June 12, and 4,924 in Scotland between March 10 and June 22, and 1,001 in Northern Ireland between March 28 and June 26.