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CMI says mortality rates at record low during second quarter of 2021

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI) is publishing frequent UK mortality analysis through its mortality monitor. Today’s updates cover week 26 of 2021 (26 June to 2 July) and the second quarter of 2021, based on provisional England & Wales deaths data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 13 July 2021.

The key points of this update are:     

  • The number of deaths registered in England & Wales in week 26 of 2021 was 1,018 lower than if mortality rates had been the same as in week 26 of 2019; equivalent to 10% fewer deaths than expected.
  • There have been around 97,300 more deaths from all causes than expected in the UK from the start of the pandemic to 2 July 2021. Of these, 24,300 have occurred in 2021.
  • The number of deaths with COVID-19 mentioned on the death certificate was 109 in week 26 of 2021, compared to 99 in week 25 of 2021.
  • Our quarterly monitor, also published today, shows that average mortality rates for ages 20-100 were 1.09% during Q2 of 2021, compared to 1.18% in Q2 of 2019, the previous low.
  • The quarterly monitor also includes additional analysis by age which shows contrasting experience between those under and over 65, with only the latter group experiencing low mortality in Q2 of 2021.

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

“All cause mortality rates during the past quarter have been lower than in any previous second quarter by a significant margin.

“While the number of COVID-19 cases has continued to rise rapidly, the increase in deaths linked to COVID-19 has been more modest. This weakening of the link between cases and deaths is likely a result of the vaccination programme.”

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

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. We use 2019 as the most recent “normal” year of mortality observed, as mortality in the first 12 weeks of 2019 and 2020 were similar.

The total excess deaths figures shown above since the start of the pandemic (97,300) and the start of 2021 (24,300) have fallen from peaks of 111,200 and 38,200 respectively, at week 9 of 2021. This is due to there being fewer deaths than expected in most subsequent weeks.

The standardised mortality rate for Q2 of 2021 is lower than the standardised mortality rates for any Q2 that we have analysed, from 2000 onwards. It is extremely unlikely that any earlier Q2 had a lower mortality rate than Q2 of 2021.

For the purposes of the mortality monitor, the CMI treats the pandemic as being deaths registered from week 10 of 2020 onwards (i.e. from 29 February 2020).

The CMI publishes three types of mortality monitor:

  • A weekly “summary” pandemic monitor, without a press release. The next is planned for week 27 of 2021 on Tuesday 20 July 2021.
  • A more detailed pandemic monitor, with a press release, every four or five weeks. The next is planned for week 30 of 2021 on Tuesday 10 August 2021.
  • A quarterly monitor, in a format that pre-dates the pandemic. The next is planned for week 39 of 2021 on Tuesday 12 October 2021.