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CMI notes over 50,000 excess deaths in second wave

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI) is publishing frequent UK mortality analysis through its mortality monitor. The latest update covers week 8 of 2021 (20 February to 26 February) based on provisional England & Wales deaths data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 9 March 2021.

The key points of this update are:     

The number of deaths registered in England & Wales in week 8 of 2021 was 949 higher than if mortality rates had been the same as in week 8 of 2019; equivalent to 8% more deaths than expected. The corresponding figures for recent weeks were 47% more deaths than expected in week 5, 27% more in week 6, and 13% more in week 7.

There have been around 110,900 more deaths than expected in the UK from the start of the pandemic to 26 February 2021. Of these, 50,200 have occurred in the second wave.

The number of deaths with COVID-19 mentioned on the death certificate was 2,914 in week 8 of 2021, compared to 4,079 in week 7 of 2021.

Cobus Daneel, Chair of the CMI Mortality Projections Committee, said:

“We have passed 50,000 excess deaths registered in the UK during the second wave. While we continue to see excess deaths, we are now well past the peak, and are approaching more typical levels of mortality.

“Excess deaths include all causes of death. There have been over 80,000 mentions of COVID on death certificates during the second wave, which implies over 30,000 fewer deaths from other causes.”

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.

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).

Now that excess deaths are relatively low, the CMI will publish two types of pandemic mortality monitor:

  • A weekly “summary” without a press release. The next is planned for week 9 of 2021 on Tuesday 16 March 2021.
  • A more detailed version, with a press release, every four or five weeks. The next is planned for week 13 of 2021 on Tuesday 13 April 2021.

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