This is the second of Laurence Hodge’s analyses of the coronavirus statistics. His first is here.
THE latest ONS figures were released on Tuesday and they show a large spike in deaths for week 14. All the data used in this graphic and those that follow relate to England and Wales only and are freely available on the ONS website.
The 16,387 deaths recorded for week 14 were 6,083 higher than the five-year rolling average and occurred when the lockdown had been in place for up to eleven days.
However the numbers suggest that it would be incorrect to assume that the lockdown would have led to a significant number of week 14 deaths occurring in the home.
The total number of deaths attributed to Covid-19 (i.e. where Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate) for the year to date is 4,119. The number of such Covid-19 deaths just in week 14 was 3,475.
Assuming that the week-14 spike above the average was made up of 57 per cent Covid-19 deaths (i.e. ALL the Covid-19 deaths) and 43 per cent non-Covid-19 deaths, the lockdown does not seem to have been useful in diminishing the number of Covid-19 fatalities since people must presumably have been infected before being confined. Only 3 per cent of all covid-19 deaths have occurred at home and a further 7 per cent in care homes, hospices or other establishments in which egress was restricted for inmates, though not for carers.
Alternatively, if numbers for week 15 go on to show that the lockdown is reducing Covid-19 deaths, an argument might be made that it should have been introduced earlier. Either conclusion will be disagreeable to the decision-makers.
On average, the number of deaths in 2020 is unremarkable. The spike in week 14 follows a pattern of weeks in which the 2020 figures fell below the average so if one looks at the cumulative position for the year to date, it is clear that in week 14 the cumulative result for 2020 nudges ahead of the rolling average by 2,277 or 1.4 per cent.
If one takes into account the mild winter in terms of mortality, the position from week 43 of 2019 (week ending 25 October) up to week 14 of 2020, the total number of all deaths is 6,279 below average or 2.3 per cent less than in an average year.