The number of people who have died from Covid in the U.K. during the pandemic is impossible to determine because of the inconsistent definitions of what is meant by a coronavirus death, researchers at Oxford University have concluded. The Telegraph has the story.
Experts from Oxford University discovered that public health and statistics organisations across the U.K. are operating under 14 different definitions to classify a death from Covid.
Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, collated for a new report published on Saturday, show that many people who died in the first wave never tested positive for the virus, particularly older people who died in care homes.
Instead, their deaths were registered as Covid simply based on a statement of the care home provider, and because coronavirus was rife at the time.
In some care homes, more than half of the Covid deaths were registered in people without pre-existing conditions, which the report authors said was “implausible” for people who needed residential care.
The authors also point out that it is unlikely that a Covid infection on its own could cause death in the absence of contributing factors, such as other illness, or the infection leading to a more deadly condition such as pneumonia.
The report also found that in some trusts, up to 95% of Covid deaths were in people with Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders.
The team said the confusion meant they were unable to separate deaths caused by Covid from those triggered by the pandemic response, and called for a proportion of deaths to be verified by post-mortem in future pandemics to determine the true reason.