Finland is set to change its method of collecting data deaths caused by COVID-19 infections from Thursday onwards, to make the information more accurate and uniform throughout the country.
The reporting of COVID-19 deaths will be based on the causes of death, not on the temporal connection between infection and death, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said on Wednesday.
Reporting will be harmonized with regard to which patients are in hospital with COVID-19, and which are due to COVID-19.
In Finland, since the beginning of the pandemic, deaths that have occurred within 30 days of confirmed COVID-19 infection have been monitored.
According to THL, at the beginning of the pandemic, it was important to identify all deaths that occurred after COVID-19 infection. Death was often found to have a clear connection to the infection.
However, at this stage not all infections have a clear causal connection to the deaths, and a large number of other deaths have been included in the reporting, THL noted.
From Thursday, COVID-19 deaths will be reported based on the preliminary screening of death certificates. These will be divided into deaths due to COVID-19, and deaths where COVID-19 was a contributing factor.
“It is important to draw attention specifically to deaths caused by the COVID-19 virus. In cases where COVID-19 is recorded as a contributing factor to death, the actual cause of death is something else,” said THL’s chief physician Tuija Leino.
“In Finland and internationally, we consider the number of COVID-19 deaths to be those cases in which the death is considered to have been caused by COVID-19,” said the expert.