'Highly unusual' mortality rate in England and Wales

Figures show likely impact of rising Covid death toll with fatalities above five-year weekly-average

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Weekly deaths in England and Wales have soared above the five-year average, official figures have revealed, with rising Covid fatalities, registration delays and the July heatwave cited as potential causes.

Deaths where coronavirus was recorded on the certificate have risen for six consecutive weeks in both nations. The week ending August 6 saw 527 such fatalities compared to 404 the week previous, marking the highest toll since the 719 in the week to March 26.

Overall deaths in England and Wales in the first week of August totalled 10,187, 13 per cent above the five-year weekly average.

Fluctuations in the average are common in winter but "highly unusual" in the summer. according to Stuart McDonald, co-founder of the Covid-19 Actuaries Response Group.

"There is typically much less variation in mortality rates from year-to-year in summer, compared to our more volatile winters," he said. "In the last five years the range [in early August] is 8,941 to 9,271"

Last year, prior to the emergence of Covid vaccines, overall deaths were actually below the five-year-average - leading Mr Mcdonald to suggest that the rise in 2021 can't be solely explained by the 527 Covid deaths.”

Mr Mcdonald took to Twitter to mull possible reasons, and gave the July heatwave and delayed registrations as two likely candidates.

The recent rise in weekly deaths is unsurprisingly impacting the year-to-date figures. The 354,283 deaths recorded so far mark an 8 per cent rise on the 2015-2019 average figure.

Excess deaths since the start of the pandemic now lie at 66,000, although only 8,000 (12 per cent) are deaths which were caused by coronavirus, according to analysis by the PA new agency.

Updated: August 18th 2021, 6:47 PM
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