Tuesday, July 7, 2020
Home COVID-19 As the lockdown bites, non-Covid deaths rise

As the lockdown bites, non-Covid deaths rise

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EACH week during the coronavirus crisis, I have been reviewing and interpreting the mortality figures released by the Office for National Statistics. The latest for England and Wales, covering the week ending May 15, paint an unusual picture.

It seems the Bank Holiday the previous week shifted a chunk of registrations into this week, so recorded deaths went up by nearly 2,000.

Notably though, despite this, Covid-19 deaths went down. It means all those 2,000 were additional non-coronavirus deaths. The lockdown bites. 

Of Covid deaths in the week ending May 15, 43.6 per cent were in care homes, showing the shift of the pandemic into them, although the numbers – by date of death rather than registration – are coming down all the time. 

Out of 2,350 excess care home deaths, 1,660 were with Covid, leaving 690 – or 29 per cent – non-Covid. Overall in care homes, there have been 24,163 excess deaths so far during the crisis, of which 11,636 were Covid, leaving 12,527, or 51.8 per cent, non-Covid. So more than half of additional care home deaths in the pandemic were not with coronavirus. 

There were 1,342 excess deaths in private homes in the week ending May 15, only 145 of them with Covid. So 1,197, or 89 per cent, are non-Covid. Since the pandemic began, there have been 12,843 excess deaths in private homes, of which 1,860 were with Covid, leaving 10,983, or 85.5 per cent, non-Covid.

Overall during the virus crisis, there have now been 54,032 excess deaths, of which 41,100 were with Covid, leaving 12,932, or 23.9 per cent – nearly a quarter – non-Covid.

What are they all dying from? One cause could be transfer from hospitals, as hospitals have seen 26,730 Covid deaths since the beginning of the outbreak, but only 16,098 excess deaths. So around 10,000 ordinary deaths that would normally occur in hospital have moved elsewhere.

As usual, we can also ask whether some ‘Covid’ deaths were misattributed, and conversely whether some non-Covid deaths were in fact with the virus. Even so, almost 13,000 is a huge number of above-average non-Covid deaths and the proportion of such deaths in care homes and private homes is considerable. Explanation is needed.

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Will Jones
Will Jones
Dr Will Jones is a maths graduate with a PhD in political philosophy and author of Evangelical Social Theology: Past and Present (Grove, 2017).He blogs at https://faith-and-politics.com/

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