Club Vita response to the ONS’s publication of its analysis of death registrations not involving COVID-19

We have long been estimating that the total death toll from the pandemic thus far is around 65,000 lives.​​

One in five of these lives lost relate to a spike in seasonal death rates after we strip out those where COVID-19 is officially recognised as a contributory factor on the death certificate.

Today’s ONS information provides welcome additional detail on these unseasonably high deaths. Not only has the timing mirrored the wave of COVID-19 deaths, but they are also concentrated in London and the West Midlands which have been worst impacted by COVID-19.

What has remained unclear is whether these deaths are due to limitations in accessing health care provision, or whether these are undiagnosed COVID deaths. Today’s analysis provides some clues. Delays in accessing treatments may be a factor as the pandemic runs its course, but this analysis suggests that, after the first few weeks of lockdown, deaths from heart disease and cancers have increased slightly. Most of the extra deaths appear to be attributed to either dementia/Alzheimer’s or old age/frailty, highlighting the vulnerability of older individuals at this time. 

There is a very clear pattern of fewer (non COVID) deaths occurring in hospital, with far more deaths occurring at home, or in care homes. This suggests the very frail are not making it to hospital, perhaps as a consequence of lockdown isolation. Whatever the reason, this will make formal recognition of COVID-19 on the death certificate more challenging.  Evidence appears to be accumulating that these unseasonably high deaths are closely related to COVID-19 and should be factored in to the headlines of the COVID-19 related loss of life.  

For more information: 

Stephanie Stern, Club Vita 

0141 566 7822

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