What the latest figures tell us about Covid-19 deaths in the UK

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published its latest data for the number of deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales.

Here are five things the figures tell us about the situation across the whole of the UK.

– There have been more than 63,500 excess deaths in the UK since the outbreak began

Tuesday’s figures from the ONS show there were 57,961 excess deaths in England and Wales between March 21 and May 29 2020.

Data published last week by the National Records of Scotland found there were 4,729 excess deaths in Scotland between March 23 and May 31, while the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency put the figure for Northern Ireland at 906 excess deaths between March 21 and May 29.

Together, this means the total number of excess deaths in the UK across this period now stands at 63,596.

All figures are based on death registrations.

Due to the inconsistent way coronavirus-related deaths are recorded and reported across the world, excess deaths is a more reliable measure for comparing the UK’s experience of Covid-19 with other countries.

Full analysis of excess deaths in 2020 will only be possible once numbers have been adjusted for the latest age distribution of the population and for seasonal variation.

– Covid-19 has been responsible for 78% of the excess deaths registered in England and Wales

Between March 21 and May 29 2020, 157,687 deaths were registered in England and Wales – 57,961 more than the average for this period in the previous five years.

Some 45,408 were deaths where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases.

Initial research published last week by the ONS into the number of non-Covid-19 excess deaths suggested undiagnosed Covid-19 could help explain some of the cases, but there is not enough evidence at present to confirm this.

The overall number of excess deaths registered per week in England and Wales has fallen from a peak of 11,854 in the week ending April 17 to 1,653 in the week ending May 29.

HEALTH Coronavirus ONS
(PA graphic)

– The number of deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK is now just under 52,000.

Tuesday’s ONS figures show that 46,421 deaths involving Covid-19 had occurred in England and Wales up to May 29, and had been registered by June 6.

Figures published last week by the National Records of Scotland showed that 3,911 deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered in Scotland up to May 31.

And data from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, also published last week, showed 757 deaths involving Covid-19 had occurred in Northern Ireland up to May 29, and had been registered up to June 3.

Together these figures mean that so far 51,089 deaths have been registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases.

Between May 30 and June 7, a further 616 hospital patients who had tested positive for Covid-19 died in England, according to NHS England; while a further 52 people in hospital and care homes who had tested positive for Covid-19 died in Wales, according to Public Health Wales.

And in Northern Ireland, a further nine people who had tested positive for Covid-19 died between May 30 and June 7, according to the Northern Ireland Department of Health.

These add up to a further 677 deaths that have occurred since May 30, and together with the total figure of 51,089 registered deaths, mean the overall death toll for the UK is now just under 52,000, at 51,766.

Details of deaths that took place in Scotland since the cut-off point for the latest registration data (May 31) are not available, because the Scottish Government does not report deaths by the date on which they occurred.

– The ONS figures for England and Wales are nearly a third higher than the number reported by the Government

The ONS says there were 46,421 deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales up to May 29, and which were registered up to June 6.

This compares with 35,967 deaths of people testing positive for Covid-19 reported by the Department of Health and Social Care for the same period.

HEALTH Coronavirus Deaths
(PA graphic)

The ONS total is 29% higher than the Department of Health total.

This is because the ONS figures include all mentions of Covid-19 on a death certificate, including suspected cases, and are based on the date that deaths occurred.

The Department of Health figures are based on when deaths were reported, and are for deaths where a person has tested positive for Covid-19.

– The proportion of deaths taking place in care homes is falling

Deaths in care homes accounted for nearly a half of all deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales every day through late April and early May, peaking at 50% of all deaths on May 9.

Since mid-May the proportion has been falling, however.

HEALTH Coronavirus ONS
(PA graphic)

On May 29, the latest date for which data is available, 33% of deaths took place in care homes – the lowest level since April 15.

There were 62 Covid-19 deaths in care homes on May 29, compared with 116 in hospitals.

These numbers could be revised as further data on death registrations is processed.

The figures also confirm there was a peak in deaths in care homes in England and Wales on April 17 (433 deaths), nine days after there was a peak in hospitals on April 8 (998 deaths).

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