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by Hospital Pharmacy Europe
Published on 18 August 2020

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Public Health England modifies definition of COVID-19-related deaths

The way in which the daily COVID-19-related deaths is calculated is to be changed according to Public Health England (PHE).

The daily death totals on the PHE dashboard and which are reported in media over the last few months, have included all recorded deaths in those who have tested positive for COVID-19. This process is at variance with the recording of COVID-19 deaths in the devolved nations, in which deaths are only counted if an individual dies within 28 days of a positive test result and accounts for the lower number of recorded deaths in these nations.

Because PHE has recorded all deaths in which someone had a positive COVID-19 test result at any time-point, the actual COVID-19-related death tally in England might have been over-estimated. After undertaking review of the data collection methods, the COVID-19-related death totals in England will now be based on a) deaths among COVID-19 positive patients that occurred within 28 days of the test and b) deaths within 60 days of a positive test AND deaths after 60 days but only where COVID-19 is recorded on the death certificate.

Using these definitions, England has now had 36,695 deaths compared with the previously reported 42,072, a drop of 5377. Using this revised measure will hopefully provide a more accurate measure of COVID-19-related deaths and allow for tracking death rates over time.

Reference
Public Health England. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/908781/Technical_Summary_PHE_Data_Series_COVID-19_Deaths_20200812.pdf



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