Covid-19 deaths in 2020: the UK’s key numbers

Here are some of the key numbers that tell the story of the impact of Covid-19 on the UK in 2020.

All figures are based on data published by the Office for National Statistics.

– At least 83,000 people had Covid-19 recorded on their death certificate

A total of 82,957 deaths had taken place in the UK up to December 18 where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

This number will increase once more deaths have been registered, including those that have occurred since December 18. It means there will have been at least 83,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in 2020.

In about nine in 10 of these deaths, Covid-19 was recorded as the underlying cause of death. In the remainder of cases, Covid-19 was mentioned elsewhere on the death certificate.

Cumulative Covid-19 deaths in the UK
(PA Graphics)

– The first death took place on January 30

The earliest known death involving Covid-19 in the UK occurred on January 30. The victim was a man in England aged between 80 and 84 years old.

The second death followed three days later, on February 2. This was a man in England aged 55 to 59.

A third death occurred on February 22, of a woman in England aged 30 to 34.

The next death took place on March 2, and from March 4 there have been deaths every day.

– Nearly 1,500 deaths took place on the ‘deadliest day’

On April 8, 1,447 deaths involving Covid-19 occurred in the UK, more than on any other day in the pandemic so far. During April there were 21 consecutive days when the number of Covid-19 deaths in the UK was over 1,000.

Deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK
(PA Graphics)

– A quarter of all Covid-19 deaths in 2020 took place in November and December

Of the 82,957 deaths involving Covid-19 that occurred in 2020 up to December 18, 20,169 of them – roughly a quarter – took place in November and December.

During the summer and early autumn, the number of deaths happening each day dropped sharply, to levels as low as seven or eight.

But the impact of the second wave of the virus caused deaths to increase during October – though not to the levels seen during the first wave.

– There were more than 22,000 Covid-19 deaths in care homes

At least 22,644 deaths involving Covid-19 took place in care homes in the UK in 2020, according to the latest available figures.

Some 19,568 deaths in care homes in England and Wales had been registered up to December 18, with 2,528 in Scotland up to December 20 and 548 in Northern Ireland up to December 18.

Deaths in care homes peaked during the spring. Some 2,794 were registered in England and Wales in the week to April 24 – the highest for any week in 2020.

Deaths involving Covid-19 in care homes in England and Wales
(PA Graphics)

– Nearly 77,000 more deaths than usual took place in 2020

The number of extra deaths in 2020 currently stands at 76,843. Extra deaths – known as “excess deaths” – are the number of deaths that are above the average for the same period in the previous five years.

It is a way of measuring the impact of Covid-19 on the whole of the population, as it also reflects those deaths that have may have been caused indirectly by the pandemic – as a consequence of the lockdown for example, or by people not seeking hospital treatment.

The overall total for excess deaths in 2020 is slightly lower than the total for deaths involving Covid-19.

This is because the number of deaths in the UK was below the long-term average in January and February – before the pandemic began – and this offset some of the above-average numbers recorded for much of the rest of the year.

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