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Fact check: Changes in COVID-19 death toll in August reduce death toll in Englands

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Social media users have erroneously distributed posts claiming that the changes the UK government introduced in August to the way it counts COVID-19 deaths are a hoax to artificially increase numbers.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

The post, which was uploaded on January 11 and shared over 350 times, showed three screenshots from a UK government blog titled After the headlines: COVID-19 Death Count.

The caption read: “NOW Ladies and gentlemen if you have a passive test within 60 days, it will now go down like a strange death on your English death certificate (Scotland will remain within 28 days still) … this will be the DESCRIPTION OF THE THREE DEATH PICTURES – DO YOU FEEL T SC RUBLESS POT !! #WAKING “(here)

A similar claim was shared on January 12 with the caption: DEATH FOR ANY REASON Within 60 days of positive trial. SCAM! (here)

However, a change made by the government in the way it recorded COVID-19 deaths is not indicative of a fraud.

First, the government announced the new indicators on August 12, 2020, so the change in methodology is not related to COVID-19 deaths during the recent increase in cases.

Second, the change was made to provide two sets of data for analysis, not to increase numbers.

Between April and August 2020, the government in England had reported all deaths after a positive test as a death from coronavirus.

According to the government blog, this decision was taken to ensure that COVID-19-related deaths are not underestimated. During this period, other countries in the UK were using different methods to count deaths. Scotland, for example, had only counted deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

The government reviewed this in August and decided that all four nations in the UK should use the same method to count coronavirus deaths.

Government analysts examined all 41,598 COVID-19 deaths reported as of August 3, 2020 and found that 88% of those people had died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test and 96% had died within 60 days of a positive test or had COVID-19 on their death certificate.

Following this information, the government decided to create two measurements.

To monitor the immediate impact of coronavirus cases, he introduced a 28-day break after a positive test to record coronavirus deaths.

To measure the long-term burden of COVID-19, she separately recorded deaths up to 60 days after a positive test, adding to this death rate more than 60 days after a positive test if COVID-19 appeared on the death certificate.

This change reduced the total number of coronavirus deaths in England at the time by 5,377, using the 28-day break and 1,668 using the 60-day measure.

All this information is available on the government blog itself (here) and in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) (here)

THE WORD

Fake. The UK Government introduced changes in the way COVID-19 deaths were calculated in August 2020. It introduced two cutting periods of 28 and 60 days after a positive test to record coronavirus deaths, compared to the previous counting method. all deaths positive test as a coronavirus death. This change created two sets of data to help the government monitor the short-term and long-term impacts of the virus. The change is not related to the high death rates observed during the increase in cases in December 2020 and January 2021.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact-Finding Team. Read more about our fact-finding work here.

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