The ONS announced today that there were 45,567 deaths registered in England in March, which is 18% less than in February, though still 1.5% more than the five-year average. (Note that deaths decreased throughout the month, so that by the week ending March 26th, the number of deaths was in fact below the five-year average.)
However, the best overall measure of mortality isn’t the number of deaths, or even the death rate (i.e., deaths divided by total population), but rather the age-standardised mortality rate. This takes into account the ages of those who died, as well as the age-structure of the overall population.
In March, the age-standardised mortality rate was 26% lower than in February, and 5.5% lower than the five-year average. This chart from the ONS shows the age-standardised mortality rate for the first three months of the year, each year, going back to 2001:
It indicates that 2021 has seen the highest level of mortality in the first three months of the year in England since 2006. However, it’s worth noting that the figure for 2021 is only 5% higher than the figure for 2018. And in Wales, the level of mortality in the first three months of the year was actually lower than in 2018.
January saw a much lower peak than April of last year, and today’s figures confirm that the mortality rate has fallen substantially further since then.