From The Times of London (Emphasis added):
The official coronavirus daily death count is expected to fall by up to three quarters after ministers switched to a method designed to spot a second wave more quickly and avoid scaring people.
Britain’s overall total death toll has been cut by more than 5,000 to 41,329 after England decided to include only those who died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus.
It gets worse:
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, ordered a review into the counting three weeks ago after being alerted that PHE included anyone who had tested positive for coronavirus in the official tally, whatever their actual cause of death.
Before people get too excited:
At the height of the pandemic, this made little difference, with 99 per cent of those who died after testing positive doing so within a month. The discrepancy has grown, with the average time between testing and death now 76 days.
The most comprehensive measure is thought to be “excess deaths”, counting how many more people are dying than usual, which also captures people killed indirectly by lockdown or lack of access to NHS care. This measure, by which the ONS recently judged Britain as having the worst death rate in Europe, is unaffected by the change.
Unravelling the COVID death toll and determining whether governments reacted appropriately, or over-reacted, in response to the pandemic is going to be a huge task.