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CMI notes deaths 50% higher than normal in week 3

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI) is publishing frequent UK mortality analysis through its mortality monitor. The latest update covers week 3 of 2021 (16 to 22 January) based on provisional England & Wales deaths data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 2 February 2021.

The key points of this update are:     

  • The number of deaths registered in England & Wales in week 3 of 2021 was 6,428 higher than if mortality rates had been the same as in week 3 of 2019; equivalent to 52% more deaths than expected. The corresponding figure for week 2 was 39% more deaths than expected.
  • There have been around 91,900 more deaths than expected in the UK from the start of the pandemic to 22 January 2021. Of these, 31,200 have occurred in the second wave.
  • The number of deaths with COVID-19 mentioned on the death certificate was 8,422 in week 3 of 2021, compared to 7,245 in week 2 of 2021.

Cobus Daneel, Chair of the CMI Mortality Projections Committee said: “Excess deaths continue to rise. In week 3, death rates were more than 50% higher than we would normally expect to see at this time of year. This level of excess deaths was only exceeded during the peak of the first wave of the pandemic.”

We define “excess” deaths as the difference between actual deaths in a week, and those that we would have expected if mortality rates had been the same as in the corresponding week of 2019.

The ONS data that we use relates to registered deaths. The timing of bank holidays led to materially higher or lower number of death registrations in weeks 51 and 52 of 2020 and week 1 of 2021 than in the absence of bank holidays, but the impact of bank holidays on results for week 2 onwards of 2021 is likely to be small.

For the purposes of the mortality monitor, the CMI treats the pandemic as being deaths registered from week 10 onwards (i.e. from 29 February 2020) and the second wave as being registrations from week 38 onwards (i.e. from 12 September 2020).

The CMI intends to publish its next mortality monitor for week 4 of 2021 on Tuesday 9 February 2021. All mortality monitor weekly updates are publicly available on the mortality monitor page.