Thousands of coronavirus deaths in England ‘to be wiped off official total’ after PHE review (Picture: Getty)

Around 10% of coronavirus deaths recorded in England – almost 4,200 – could be wiped from official records due to an error in counting, a review has found.

Last month, Health Secretary Matt Hancock ordered a review into the way the daily death count was calculated in England, citing a possible ‘statistical flaw’.

Academics found that Public Health England’s statistics included everyone who had died after testing positive – even if the death occurred naturally or in a freak accident, and after the person had recovered from the virus.

The review findings could reduce England’s death toll by 4,170 deaths from official statistics. Numbers will now be reconfigured, counting deaths if a person died within 28 days of testing positive much like Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Professor Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, who first noticed the error, told the Sun: ‘It is a sensible decision. There is no point attributing deaths to Covid-19 28 days after infection.

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‘All it does is muddy the water. While deaths are falling in Scotland, PHE data suggests matters are worse in England.

‘But if it’s someone who picked up the virus in a care home in March and recovered, and last week died of a heart attack, what does that actually tell us?’ 

The Health Secretary is expected to announce new measures in response to the counting debacle as ministers are thought to be planning a reform of PHE following its failings in tracking the virus and testing throughout the crisis. 

The move was seen by many scientists as one of the central mistakes in Britain’s handling of the pandemic.

As the Office of National Statistics (ONS) only calculates coronavirus deaths as those based on death certificates, it’s considered to be England’s most reliable coronavirus tracker.

As of August 6, the UK’s official coronavirus death toll stood at 46,413.

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Source: Metro