England: Government pauses Covid-19 daily death toll figures over accuracy concerns
The move has been branded odd by academics and experts.
The government has paused the UK's Covid-19 daily death toll figures following concerns over their accuracy.
Experts have said the number of deaths may be over-exaggerated - but others have branded the move "odd".
Academics have said the way Public Health England (PHE) calculates the data means they might look worse in England compared to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
England's figures are understood to include anyone who has ever tested positive for Covid-19 - regardless of whether they died for another reason, reports The Mirror.
But there is unlikely to have been a "massive distortion", a member of the Independent Sage group said.
The Department for Health and Social Care said: "The Secretary of State has today, 17 July, asked PHE to urgently review their estimation of daily death statistics.
"Currently the daily deaths measure counts all people who have tested positive for coronavirus and since died, with no cut-off between time of testing and date of death.
"There have been claims that the lack of cut-off may distort the current daily deaths number.
"We are therefore pausing the publication of the daily figure while this is resolved."
It comes after 114 deaths were announced yesterday.
An insider told the Evening Standard : "It turns out you could have been tested positive in February, recovered, then hit by a bus in July and you’d be recorded as a covid death.”
However, the number of excess deaths - referring to this year's number of deaths compared to the recent years - is still 65,000 more than the five year average.
Britain has been the European country worst hit by the virus, with an official death toll of more 45,000.
But the government has said international comparisons are misleading because countries record coronavirus deaths differently.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday ordered a review into the PHE's reporting after the academics said patients who tested positive for coronavirus, but were successfully treated, would still be counted as dying from the virus.
Prof Carl Heneghan from the University of Oxford, told the BBC : "By this PHE definition, no one with Covid in England is allowed to ever recover from their illness.
"We need correct and accurate statistics so we can really understand the trend - otherwise it's very difficult to know what's going on."
Dr Susan Hopkins, PHE's incident director, said: "Although it may seem straightforward, there is no World Health Organisation agreed method of counting deaths from Covid-19.
"In England, we count all those that have died who had a positive Covid-19 test at any point, to ensure our data is as complete as possible.