Daily COVID-19 figures could be skewed because of the rise in Omicron infections, UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Wednesday.
This means that death figures could be too high because people are dying from conditions unrelated to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19, after testing positive.
Javid said that Wednesday’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed a fall in infections, including in older age groups.
“Hospitalisations have also fallen over the past week, and the number of COVID patients in intensive care beds is now at the same level as it was back in July,” he said.
But the health secretary added that “many” people were being included in the daily death count who “would not have necessarily died of COVID.”
“We estimate that around 40 percent of the people with COVID in hospital are there not because they’ve got COVID, but they happen to have COVID, so it’s what you might call an incidental infection,” he said.
“That’s almost double the percentage that we saw with Delta, and that’s important because the deaths that are being reported of people who were COVID-positive within 28 days of passing away, many of those people would not have necessarily died of COVID,” said Javid.
The health secretary also said that the ONS has very detailed data that “will come out shortly” which details the actual cause of death listed on death certificates.
Chief medical adviser to the UK Health Security Agency Susan Hopkins said that “deaths within 28 days, we regard as a leading indicator and we monitor this very carefully. But it doesn’t take into account people who have died with COVID.”
“Given the very large number of cases that we’ve diagnosed in the last number of weeks, we will sadly see some people, particularly the very elderly, who die within 28 days of a case of COVID,” said Hopkins.