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CMI says third quarter mortality in line with pre-COVID trend

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI) is publishing frequent UK mortality analysis through its mortality monitor. The latest update covers weeks 37 to 39 of 2020 (5 to 25 September) based on provisional England & Wales deaths data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 6 October 2020. We have also published our regular quarterly monitor, for the third quarter of 2020, alongside the shorter pandemic focused version.

The key points of these updates are:

  • Year-to-date mortality in England & Wales is at a level not seen since 2008, despite mortality in the third quarter of 2020 being the lowest ever seen.
  • There has been an increase in recent weeks in the number of deaths where COVID-19 is mentioned on the death certificate. The figure of 215 COVID-19 deaths in England & Wales in week 39 is the highest since July, although still relatively low compared to the peak of the pandemic.
  • Considering weeks 37 to 39 together, there were 0.3% more deaths registered in England & Wales than if death rates had been the same as corresponding weeks of 2019. In the previous three-week period, weeks 34 to 36, deaths were 3% lower than expected.
  • There have been around 60,400 more deaths in the UK from the start of the pandemic to 25 September 2020 than if mortality rates were similar to those experienced in 2019. This is a decrease of around 4,000 from the peak at 12 June 2020.

Cobus Daneel, Chair of the CMI Mortality Projections Committee said: “Despite the September increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalisations, mortality in Q3 2020 remained at a similar level to Q3 2019. We will continue to closely monitor the figures.”

The CMI treats quarters as being 13-week periods, rather than 3-month periods because the ONS data is for weeks.

“Excess” deaths are the difference between actual deaths in 2020, and those that we would expect if mortality rates had been the same as in 2019.

The cumulative number of excess deaths as at 25 September is lower than the number as at 12 June because there have been fewer deaths than expected during the past seven weeks of data; i.e. excess deaths have been negative in those weeks.

The CMI intends to publish its next mortality monitor for week 41 on 20 October 2020. All mortality monitor weekly updates are publicly available on the mortality monitor page.