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The UK’s Office for National Statistics publishes a report of deaths registered weekly in England and Wales. They have recently started showing deaths involving COVID-19.
The chart below shows deaths registered as of 27 March 2020. (For the latest charts, please visit the ONS website.) The green line at the bottom shows the deaths where COVID-19 is stated in the death certificate.
Compare the green COVID-19 deaths with the lines for 5-year averages of all deaths. By the time you read this chart, the numbers will no-doubt be behind but ask yourself: is the news reporting proportionate to the actual data?
Note that ONS states a death can be registered with both COVID-19 and Influenza and Pneumonia. This means that the COVID-19 deaths in this chart may already be included in the Influenza and Pneumonia lines.
This section has been updated for Week 14 and things get a little interesting. As you can see, there has been a sharp increase in COVID-19 deaths.
However, if you look at the report notes, ONS have changed their counting methodology. Previously, a death may have been counted in both the flu and pneumonia as well as COVID-19. Now, the deaths that would have previously counted as pneumonia are counted for COVID-19. Is there any wonder why Week 14 shows a jump?
More worrying is the sharper increase in all deaths for 2020. Where are these coming from? Could these be from the consequences of the lock-down that experts are warning us about?
Update 18 April 2020: InProportion2 analyses these latest figures.
Further, NHS staff and patients are reporting in social media that:
- While some hospitals are busy, many appear to be unusually quiet.
- Sick people are afraid to seek medical attention.
- Ambulance and doctors are not attending to some calls since they’re deemed to be low priority.
- Patients are not getting adequate treatment and regular prescriptions.
Are we seeing excess deaths in the UK caused by the lockdown?
While the Week 15 numbers are worrying, we should also put them in context with the year-to-date figures for Influenza and Pneumonia, as well as all deaths. We see in Week 15 Chart B that COVID-19 still makes up a small proportion of all deaths.
With these updated statistics, we again need to ask if the government reaction is proportional to the danger.
Update 29 April 2020: Please visit InProportion2 for subsequent weeks. The site offers excellent analysis of the figures from the Office for National Statistics.