Fact check: UK has two different measures to record COVID-19 deaths

A post has claimed that if a person dies of a heart attack after testing positive for COVID-19, their death will be labeled as a virus-related death, but that if they die from a heart attack after receiving the vaccine the heart attack will be recorded as the cause of death. This claim is missing context.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

It reads: “Death from heart attack 2 days after testing positive for Covid: “Covid killed him”. Death from heart attack 2 days after Covid vaccine: “Heart attack killed him” (here, here).

The UK records COVID-19 deaths in two ways (here).

One measure includes the number of deaths that occur within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test result.

As of Jan. 11, more than 81,000 deaths fall within this category.

However, the government also records the number of deaths for which doctors have written COVID-19 as a cause of death on the death certificate.

People who had COVID-19 but did not have it written on their death certificate – because it was not deemed to be a cause of death - are excluded from this number.

Up to Dec. 18, more than 82,000 people had COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate.

Meanwhile, a fatal heart attack suffered by a patient who had recently been vaccinated would be reported under the vaccine monitoring system if it was suspected to be connected in any way to the jab.

Even though vaccines undergo rigorous testing before being licensed for use, their safety is monitored on an ongoing basis.

In the UK vaccines are monitored by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) (Yellow Card Scheme - MHRA).

Suspected side effects of a vaccine are reported to the MHRA by drug companies, health professionals and patients (here).

If a previously unidentified reaction emerges, or the frequency of reactions are not in line with what is expected, then this will be investigated by the MHRA.


Missing context. In the UK, COVID-19 deaths are recorded in two ways. While the first includes all deaths that occur within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 result, the second is the number of deaths where COVID-19 was written as a cause of death on the death certificate. Side effects from vaccines are monitored on a routine basis by the MHRA in the UK.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .