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CMI cautions that fall in excess weekly deaths exaggerated by timing of VE Day

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI) is publishing weekly UK mortality analysis through its mortality monitor. This week’s update shows the position as at week 19 of 2020 (2 May to 8 May) based on provisional England & Wales deaths data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 19 May 2020.

The key points of this update are:

  • There were 1.4 times as many deaths registered in week 19 of 2020 than if death rates had been the same as week 19 of 2019. The ratio was 1.6 in week 18 and 2.2 in week 17.
  • There may have been around 61,000 more deaths in the UK from the start of the pandemic to 18 May 2020 than if mortality rates were similar to those experienced in 2019.
  • Very few deaths were recorded on the VE Day anniversary bank holiday, Friday 8 May. The unrecorded deaths are likely to be seen in the week 20 figures.

Cobus Daneel, Chair of the CMI Mortality Projections Committee said: “The latest figures released by the ONS show a significant decline in ‘excess’ weekly deaths, although the fall in week 19 has been exaggerated by the timing of the VE Day bank holiday. Most excess deaths not reported in week 19 will be registered in week 20.”

The latest ONS data for ‘Deaths registered weekly in England & Wales’ is for week 19, ending on Friday 8 May. If the Friday is a public holiday then deaths cannot typically be registered until the following week. If a public holiday falls on a Monday, then deaths can be registered later in that week. During the coronavirus pandemic, some register offices were open over the Easter public holidays, but daily registrations suggest that few were open on the VE Day anniversary bank holiday.

All mortality monitor weekly updates are publicly available on the mortality monitor page.

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