Almost 2,700 people a week have died because of the effects of lockdown, analysis of official data suggests.
The study by economists and academics from Sheffield and Loughborough universities suggests more than 21,000 people died as a result of the measures introduced in March.
The analysis examines Office for National Statistics (ONS) data in the eight weeks that followed the national lockdown.
Researchers said the findings show that “lockdown has killed 21,000 people” because the policy has had “significant unintended consequences” such as lack of access to critical healthcare and a collapse in A&E attendances.
Experts fear people still unable to access medical care even though there are now relatively few coronavirus cases in hospitals
Twice as many people are now dying at home from unexplained causes rather than Covid-19, with experts calling for an urgent investigation into what is causing the excess deaths.
The ONS figures show that deaths in hospitals continue to be much lower than usual, suggesting that many of the home deaths are people who would ordinarily have received hospital care.
Nearly three times as many people are now dying of flu and pneumonia than with coronavirus in England and Wales, new figures have revealed.
Numbers published by the Office For National Statistics show 917 flu and pneumonia deaths were registered for the week ending on July 10.
In comparison, 366 people died that week after testing positive for Covid-19 – the lowest number of deaths involving the virus in the last 16 weeks and a 31.2% decrease compared with the previous week, which saw 532 deaths.
Overall, the number of deaths registered in the same week was 6.1% (560 deaths) below the five-year average – the fourth consecutive week it has been below average.
As national restrictions were imposed, experts from the Department of Health, the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the government’s Actuary Department and the Home Office forecast the collateral damage from delays to healthcare and the effects of recession arising from the pandemic response.
It estimated that in a reasonable worst case scenario, around 50,000 people would die from coronavirus in the first six months of the pandemic, with mitigation measures in place.
[T]he report published in April they calculated that up to 25,000 could die from delays to treatment in the same period and a further 185,000 in the medium to long term – amounting to nearly one million years of life lost.
• There was “massive confusion” about different Covid data between England’s health bodies. “Public Health England figures are about double the ONS figures because PHE are reporting anybody who has had a positive Covid death in the past… This will get increasingly confusing as we go into the next Winter because there could be a new outbreak and new deaths while also still reporting on historical deaths… This is a problem for epidemiologists and media… ”
• Even a “28 period cut-off is still not ideal for accurate death numbers because there is “immediate cause and underlying cause… Immediate cause means you’ve had Covid within 21 days but outside of that, it becomes the underlying cause — something that contributed to your death but wasn’t a direct cause. A 21 day cut-off would be helpful because it gives a clearer understanding of that distinction”
• “We follow excess deaths which is the most accurate information about what’s going on at that moment, but it can’t tell you what those deaths are caused by” (i.e. people not coming forward with heart attacks etc)
• “There’s an important distinction between lives lost and life years lost. One of the things we’ll be watching very closely over the next six months is how many people would have actually died in the next six months… That’s where the excess deaths really matter. If we start to see it trend significantly under for the next few months, we’ll start to come forward with information that suggests there was a group of vulnerable people that any respiratory infection would have shortened their life.”
• “In the media you’ll always hear about catastrophe and the consequences of that. One of the things we notice is that when you don’t hear anything that usually means there’s good news happening. So when Sweden looks worse you hear about it but when it’s not so bad, like now, you never see it in the media.”
In reality many of the people who died from Covid-19 were likely to die this year anyway, so in one respect this estimate is likely to be too high. In another respect it’s likely to be too low, as it will not include ‘lockdown deaths’, that is, the deaths from delayed cancer and heart treatments, and so on, but as I was interested in the effect of Covid-19 I didn’t want those in my graph anyway. (Another complication is that not everyone who is classed as a Covid-19 death actually died from it, but I decided to ignore this.)
The five year average for 2015-19 is 531,355 deaths per year. As of writing this there were 42,462 Covid-19 deaths in the UK. There are likely to be a few more deaths in the next few weeks, but not many more, as the disease is (barring an unlikely second wave in winter), on its way out. Besides, the number we are adding on here is for the whole of the UK, not just England and Wales, so if anything this number is inflated. That gives us 573,817 deaths for 2020. Then I got hold of the historical population figures for England and Wales, and calculated the death rates per 1000 from it, so that population increases are taken account of. Here is the result:
Ben Humberstone, Head of Health Analysis and Life Events, Office for National Statistics:
‘Today’s analysis shows that jobs involving close proximity with others, and those where there is regular exposure to disease, have some of the highest rates of death from COVID-19. However, our findings do not prove conclusively that the observed rates of death involving COVID-19 are necessarily caused by differences in occupational exposure.’
Novelist Hector Drummond decided to look at the annual death figures for England and Wales from the Office for National Statistics. This is what he found after graphing the numbers all the way back to the turn of the twentieth century.
The 2020 death figures on the right cannot even be considered a spike over the course of the century.
He explained his methodology in this post:
Only 22% of people testing positive for coronavirus reported having symptoms on the day of their test, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Note: the article deduces that this shows the importance of asymptomatic transmission. However, cases of asymptomatic transmission has been found to be very rare.
In June 2020, The Office for National Statistics released their Gross domestic product (GDP) report for April 2020. They calculated that GDP fell by 10.4% in the three months to April. This was directly caused by the UK government’s policy of lockdown.
The number of people claiming unemployment benefit in the UK soared to 2.1 million in April, the first full month of the coronavirus lockdown.
But the labour market is set to worsen, according to politicians and analysts, with Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, telling the BBC on Tuesday that the unemployment rate was likely “to increase significantly”.
Only a third of the excess deaths seen in the community in England and Wales can be explained by covid-19, new data have shown.
Of those 30 000, only 10 000 have had covid-19 specified on the death certificate. While Spiegelhalter acknowledged that some of these “excess deaths” might be the result of underdiagnosis, “the huge number of unexplained extra deaths in homes and care homes is extraordinary. When we look back . . . this rise in non-covid extra deaths outside the hospital is something I hope will be given really severe attention.”
“There are really only two particularly unusual things about the Covid-19 epidemic: the timing of its arrival and the lockdown some countries declared.”
Deaths per day, as is well-reported, peaked around Easter; and because deaths lag infections by something around three weeks, this implies that infections peaked sometime in mid-March. If you add up all the bars in the chart and fill in the blank area of deaths still to come, we are looking at a killer that, in scale, is bad-but-nothing-special compared to killers of previous years. Panning out: as a killer worldwide, it looks as though Covid is going to take a toll perhaps 1% of 1918’s Spanish Flu.
…the dark blue line is 2019-20, with Covid-19; the turquoise and red lines are the bad flu years of 1998-99 and 1999-2000.
…Covid-19 is narrowly in third place as a killer to remember, behind the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 influenzas (2017-18’s ‘Beast from the East’, the green line, doesn’t place), a point also made by American statistician William Briggs.
- “A third [of deaths in the week up to 10 April] were linked to coronavirus, but deaths from other causes also increased, suggesting the lockdown may be having an indirect impact on health.”
- “On Tuesday [21 April] 823 new deaths were announced, but most of these happened in the previous days and weeks. Some even date back to March.”
- “But the ONS also said deaths from other causes rose too.”
- “The number of deaths from flu and pneumonia…is three times higher than the total number of coronavirus deaths this year.”
It was the worst winter on record for more than 40 years, with the 1975-76 season being the last time deaths climbed so high above the expected levels.
The NHS was rocked by a record winter crisis in early 2018, with a massive rise in flu cases and sub-zero temperatures triggered by the Beast from the East storm, which added further to death rates.
“The number of excess winter deaths in England and Wales in 2017 to 2018 was the highest recorded since the winter of 1975 to 1976,” said Nick Stripe, from the ONS Health Analysis and Life Events team.”
InProportion2 analyses the latest figures from Office for National Statistics, week ending 3 April 2020.
There were an estimated 43,900 excess deaths in England and Wales last winter, the highest number since 1999, figures show.
The report suggests most of the deaths involved people over 75.
The flu virus was a major cause of the rise, along with an influenza vaccine that was less effective than those of previous years, experts said.
The figures are published by the Office for National Statistics and show there were more deaths in women than men.