Health

More than 600,000 people died in England and Wales in 2020

More people have died over the past 12 months than in any year for more than a century, figures showed yesterday.

There were 608,002 deaths in England and Wales last year, the highest annual total since 1918, a year that saw the Spanish flu pandemic.

Deaths in the year of Covid even outnumbered those of 1940, the year of the Blitz, when mortality rates leaped as tens of thousands were killed in bombing raids.

The count from the Office for National Statistics showed there were 75,925 ‘excess deaths’ in England and Wales last year.

The mortality rate — the number of deaths per 1,000 people — surged by 12.1 per cent last year after 604,000 fatalities from all causes were recorded, including 77,700 where the virus was mentioned on the death certificate. It hasn’t surged so much since 1940, when the Blitz and war with Germany led to 590,000 deaths and a 20 per cent jump in the annual death rate. Excluding warfare, figures reveal it is the sharpest rise in almost a century, with the last rise of 12 per cent recorded in 1929 when the country was in the grips of the Great Depression

There were 608,002 deaths in England and Wales last year, the highest annual total since 1918, a year that saw the Spanish flu pandemic

There were 608,002 deaths in England and Wales last year, the highest annual total since 1918, a year that saw the Spanish flu pandemic

The excess deaths figure – the number of deaths more than the average toll over the previous five years – is the highest since the Second World War. The figures do not count war deaths of Britons overseas.

Sarah Caul, of the ONS, said the death toll in 2020 was ‘extraordinary’ and added: ‘With the pandemic ongoing, we expect to see more deaths above the average, and it is unknown how long repercussions of this pandemic will be felt.’

The 608,002 deaths in England and Wales – just short of 697,000 when deaths in all UK countries are counted – compares with 611,861 deaths in England and Wales in 1918.

But changes in the age and size of the population mean this is not a like-for-like comparison.

A temporary mortuary is set up in the grounds of Headley Court in Leatherhead, Surrey on January 11, after local morgue services  begin to reach capacity

A temporary mortuary is set up in the grounds of Headley Court in Leatherhead, Surrey on January 11, after local morgue services  begin to reach capacity

Britain today alone confirmed another 1,243 deaths from coronavirus. There were 45,533 positive tests, a drop of 25 per cent from this time last week and brings the average for the past seven days down with it

Britain today alone confirmed another 1,243 deaths from coronavirus. There were 45,533 positive tests, a drop of 25 per cent from this time last week and brings the average for the past seven days down with it

The population in England and Wales in 1918 was 34million, compared with around 60million today, so proportionately more people died in 1918 than in 2020.

There have been more than 600,000 deaths in only two years since records began in 1838.

Some 581,537 deaths were recorded in 1940, but rising population has meant that numbers of deaths in England and Wales were higher than that in several years in the 1970s and 80s.

Excess deaths last year – estimated to be 91,000 across the UK – meant that mortality jumped to 15 per cent above the five-year average, the greatest upward leap of any year since 1940.

Taking into account rising population, mortality rates in 2020 showed that more than one in every 10,000 people in England and Wales died last year.

The mortality rate — the number of deaths per 1,000 people — surged by 12.1 per cent last year after 604,000 fatalities from all causes were recorded, including 77,700 where the virus was mentioned on the death certificate. It hasn't surged so much since 1940, when the Blitz and war with Germany led to 590,000 deaths and a 20 per cent jump in the annual death rate

The mortality rate — the number of deaths per 1,000 people — surged by 12.1 per cent last year after 604,000 fatalities from all causes were recorded, including 77,700 where the virus was mentioned on the death certificate. It hasn’t surged so much since 1940, when the Blitz and war with Germany led to 590,000 deaths and a 20 per cent jump in the annual death rate

This mortality rate is the highest since 2003, the last year the death rate was above one in 10,000, and ends a period of 17 years in which increasingly good health has led to people living longer.

Ben Humberstone, of the ONS, told BBC Radio Four’s World At One: ‘The number of excess deaths is beyond what we would have expected even given the pandemic, particularly when you take into account the lower than average flu deaths in the first three months of last year. It really is astonishing.

‘It is also quite difficult working with these figures, recognising that all of those are families who’ve lost loved ones, communities and colleagues who are bereaved. That is the bit that stands out to us as health statisticians.’

The ONS figures showed that 31.2 per cent of deaths registered in England and Wales in the last week of 2020 were said by doctors to be of patients with symptoms of Covid-19 – the highest share since the peak of the pandemic in April.

Experts believe the UK could face another 25,000 deaths because of infections that occurred over the last three weeks, which is roughly how long it takes for a patient to become severely ill and die from the virus

Experts believe the UK could face another 25,000 deaths because of infections that occurred over the last three weeks, which is roughly how long it takes for a patient to become severely ill and die from the virus

There were 3,144 deaths in which coronavirus was noted on death certificates, the greatest number of Covid-linked deaths in a week since May.

The ONS figures are based on numbers of deaths which are registered and analysis of death certificates on which doctors have mentioned the presence of Covid.

They differ from the daily Public Health England count, which records deaths of people within 28 days of a positive test.

The ONS warned that its figures covering the week that ended on Friday, January 1, are skewed because two bank holidays, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, fell during the seven days. Register offices were closed on those days, so deaths could not be officially recorded.

There were 10,069 deaths in England and Wales recorded during the week, 1,451 fewer than during the previous week, which included the single Christmas Day bank holiday. The figure was more than a quarter higher than the five-year average for the last week of the year.

Deaths attributed to coronavirus were ‘the highest proportion of deaths involving Covid-19 since the week ending May 1’.

The ONS figures suggested that the virus continues to take the greatest toll among the oldest age groups, and that there is no major increase in virus deaths among younger people.

It said that in the week ending January 1 ‘the number of deaths involving the coronavirus in England and Wales increased in most age groups compared with the previous week, except for people aged between 45 and 49 years – one fewer death’.

The report said: ‘The biggest increase was seen in those aged between 85 and 89 years – 100 more deaths. More than three-quarters –75.3 per cent – of deaths involving Covid-19 were in people aged 75 years and over.’

Covid is now behind a THIRD of all deaths in England and Wales as data reveals 2020 saw the biggest spike in excess deaths since World War Two

ByLuke Andrews For Mailonline 

One in every three deaths in England and Wales was linked to coronavirus in the final days of 2020, official figures revealed today as a separate analysis claimed the virus was behind the sharpest rise in fatalities since 1940.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) numbers show 31.2 per cent of deaths in the five days to January 2 — 3,144 out of 10,069 — had Covid mentioned on their death certificates. This is the highest proportion in the second wave.

The number of deaths from the virus rose by eight per cent — 232 more people — compared to the previous week, despite the figures reported covering two fewer days than a normal week. 

Coronavirus drove the steepest climb in deaths for 80 years, a separate analysis found, after killing about one per cent of those infected and disrupting healthcare for patients including those suffering from cancer.

The mortality rate — the number of deaths per 1,000 people — surged by 12.1 per cent last year after 604,000 fatalities from all causes were recorded, including 77,700 where the virus was mentioned on the death certificate. 

It hasn’t surged so much since 1940, when the Blitz and war with Germany led to 590,000 deaths and a 20 per cent jump in the annual death rate. Excluding warfare, figures reveal it is the sharpest rise in almost a century, with the last rise of 12 per cent recorded in 1929 when the country was in the grips of the Great Depression.

A MailOnline analysis yesterday revealed Britain could suffer as many as 120,000 deaths from coronavirus alone before the pandemic comes to an end, with countless further deaths predicted from disruption to healthcare.

Boris Johnson is desperately ramping up the roll out of the vaccine to get it into the arms of 13million of the most vulnerable Britons — over 70s, frontline NHS staff, care home residents and vulnerable Britons — by mid-February in a determined drive to turn the tide on the pandemic. 

The mortality rate in England and Wales has surged by the highest amount since 1940, official figures reveal. Above are Britons receiving the Covid-19 vaccine which it is hoped will drive down the death rate

The mortality rate in England and Wales has surged by the highest amount since 1940, official figures reveal. Above are Britons receiving the Covid-19 vaccine which it is hoped will drive down the death rate

Statistics now suggest nearly 100,000 people have died with Covid-19 across the UK since the pandemic began, with agencies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland recording a combined 98,379. The Department of Health has recorded the deaths of 81,960 people who tested positive for Covid. 

The latest reports from the UK’s statistical agencies – the Office for National Statistics, National Records of Scotland and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency – have counted around 93,000 Covid deaths. 

This includes 84,449 deaths in England and Wales up to January 1, which were confirmed by the ONS on Tuesday, along with 6,686 in Scotland and 1,830 in Northern Ireland.

And since those statistics were compiled, a further 4,869 have occurred in England, plus 117 in Scotland, 245 in Wales and 118 in Northern Ireland, according to additional data on the Government’s coronavirus dashboard.

CORONAVIRUS DRIVES THE SHARPEST RISE IN DEATHS IN 80 YEARS, ANALYSIS SUGGESTS

Coronavirus has driven the sharpest rise in the number of excess deaths in England and Wales since 1940, when the country was in the grips of World War Two.

The mortality rate – the number of deaths per 1,000 people – surged by 12.1 per cent last year, analysis reveals, after 604,000 fatalities from all causes were recorded. This included 77,700 where the virus was mentioned on the death certificate. 

It hasn’t leapt this much since 1940, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), when the Blitz led to 590,000 deaths and a 20 per cent jump. 

But removing the war reveals it hasn’t spiralled by 12 per cent in almost a century, staying below this level since the Great Depression ravaged the country in 1929.

It comes amid warnings Britain could face as many as 120,000 deaths from coronavirus alone before the pandemic comes to an end, with many more triggered by disrupted healthcare for other conditions. 

Analysis of ONS figures by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries for Sky News revealed the sharp jump in the mortality rate.

Experts consider the rate to be the best measure of how the virus has torn through the country, because it takes into account the size of the population.

This means it is possible to compare populations of different sizes, and hence deaths in one year next to those in previous years.

A total of 67million people lived in the UK in 2020, according to official estimates, 16million more than the numbers thought to be in the country in 1950. 

Together, these totals mean that so far 98,379 deaths involving Covid-19 have taken place in the UK.

The report also revealed that the 10,069 deaths registered in the last five days of 2020 were 26.6 per cent above the five-year average or 2,115 higher than the 7,954 that would be expected at that time of year.

All seven regions of England had a higher number of deaths than average for the eighth week in a row.

Despite the shortened reporting period – five days instead of seven – the number of deaths involving Covid-19 also increased in five regions – the North West, East of England, London, South East and South West.

This reflects the acceleration of the second wave and is a result of spiralling infection rates in November and early December.

There is a lag between the two as it takes roughly three weeks for someone who is infected with the virus to become so severely ill they end up in hospital and sadly die from the virus.

It is thought that around one per cent of all who catch the coronavirus die from it, as suggested by a study compiled by experts who have been studying Covid-19 since it first emerged in China back in March. 

But some experts have disputed this figure, claiming the death rate may have fallen to 0.5 per cent because of improvements in healthcare for patients suffering from the virus and new medicines that have been discovered.

The rate is much higher for elderly people and much lower for children. 

A separate analysis of ONS figures by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries for Sky News revealed this year saw the sharpest jump in the mortality rate since 1940. 

Experts consider the rate to be the best measure of how the virus has torn through the country, because it takes into account the size of the population.

This means it is possible to compare populations of different sizes, and hence deaths in one year next to those in previous years. A total of 67million people lived in the UK in 2020, according to official estimates, 16million more than the numbers thought to be in the country in 1950.

The mortality rate also surged by more than 12 per cent in 1918, when the Spanish flu epidemic and the end of the First World War crossed over, and in the 1850s when the potato blight led to famine.

In 1940, the Blitz and war with Germany led to 590,000 deaths and a 20 per cent jump in the annual death rate. 

Excluding warfare, figures reveal 2020’s is the sharpest rise in almost a century, with the last rise of 12 per cent recorded in 1929 when the country was in the grips of the Great Depression. 

The 604,000 deaths recorded in 2020 are also the highest number since 1918, when 600,000 were registered according to official figures.

MailOnline analysis warned yesterday Britain could face a further 25,000 deaths from the virus in the next four weeks, with many more predicted from other causes.

Department of Health figures show the UK’s official toll currently stands at 82,000 – half of which have occurred since the start of the second wave in September. But this could surge as high as 120,000 by March, should the second wave not peak for the next two weeks.

Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious diseases expert at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline: ‘The correct answer is that we don’t really know how many people will die. There’s still a lot of uncertainty with how effective the current lockdowns will be at actually reversing the increase in cases.’ 

Professor Kevin McConway, a statistician at the Open University, said the suggestion was ‘not a million miles off’.

The Prime Minister has promised to get all top priority Britons — the over-70s, adults with underlying conditions, NHS staff and care home residents and workers — vaccinated against the virus by mid-February.

Matt Hancock yesterday revealed 2.3million people in the UK have now had a Covid vaccine, hitting a rate of around 200,000 jabs per day.

Boris Johnson last week pledged to hit 200,000 doses a day by this Friday, meaning the target appears to have been met early after the number of people to receive their first dose of the vaccine has almost doubled in a week, from 1.3m on Sunday, January 3, to 2.6m by today.


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