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UK deaths in 2020

Executive summary

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On October 19th, 2020, a document was published by the UK Office for National Statistics (Ref 1). It was called “Deaths in private homes, England and Wales (provisional): deaths registered from 28 December 2019 to 11 September 2020.” The author was Sarah Caul. Her job title is Head of Mortality Analysis, which would be quite something at dinner parties! Private homes were defined as a person’s own residence. The document also provided data for deaths in hospitals and care homes. It was thus a useful and interesting insight into what happened in the UK during the year of Covid-19.

The dataset underpinning the document can be seen here (Ref 2). It was a joy to work with, as numbers consistently added up to the same number. This rarely happens in academic papers where the numbers of participants often don’t match across tables and the paper doesn’t even think this merits an explanation.

The document was factual, as you would expect from the Office for National Statistics. This note will be facts, numbers, and pictures, therefore. The data were helpfully presented in two time periods: i) from 28th December 2019 until 11th September 2020, and ii) from week 12 of 2020 (the week ending 20th March) until week 37 (the week ending 11th September). The former covers full weeks for the year 2020 to date; the latter covers the period from when the first Covid-19 death was recorded in the UK to date. The data were compared with what we would normally expect – this was measured as the five-year average for the same period.

These are the main findings from the publication and dataset:

Deaths and excess deaths in private homes

For the year to date:

* In England, the number of deaths in private homes registered between 28 December 2019 and 11 September 2020 was 108,842; this was 25,472 deaths more than the five-year average for the same period. We call those 25,472 deaths, excess deaths.

* In Wales, the number of deaths in private homes registered between 28 December 2019 and 11 September 2020 was 7,440; this represented 1,624 excess deaths.

* In England 2.2% of the 108,842 deaths in private homes involved Covid-19. In Wales, 1.8% of the 7,440 deaths in private homes involved Covid-19 (Ref 3). The vast majority of deaths at home did not involve Covid-19, therefore.

For the Covid-19 part of the year (Week 12 to 37 inclusive):


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