There have been over 8,750 more deaths than usual from causes other than COVID-19 in England and Wales in the past 10 weeks, the latest data from the Office for National Statistics show.
In the week ending July 1st, the most recent week for which figures are available, there were 10,357 deaths registered, which is 1,128 or 12.2% above the five-year average. Of these, 332 were registered with Covid as a contributory cause and 212 were registered as due to Covid as underlying cause. This leaves 916 excess deaths from an underlying cause other than COVID-19, bringing the total non-Covid excess deaths in the 10 weeks since the recent spike began in late April to 8,756 deaths.
Health experts have called for an urgent investigation of this alarming trend, though the Government has yet to signal it intends to do this or to offer any explanation of the high rate of deaths.
Looking at deaths by date of occurrence, if we compare them to the rollout of vaccine doses in the spring booster campaign among over-75s in England we can see what appears to be a correlation, meaning a possible connection should be investigated. The sharp drop in the most recent week may be an indication that the wave is easing, though with the crisis in ambulance services and hospital capacity ongoing that remains to be seen.
Breaking the data down by age, the proportion of non-Covid excess deaths in the over-75s is back up again to 74% this week, after briefly dropping to 64% last week.
Looking at deaths by cause, we can see that cardiovascular deaths (related to the heart and blood vessels) of different kinds have been running high during the period (the dotted purple line is the expected number of deaths). Note that these graphs relate to any cause mentioned on a death certificate, not just the underlying cause, meaning each person’s death may appear on multiple charts, once for each cause of death recorded.
Diabetes, diseases of the urinary system and diseases of the liver have also been running high.
On the other hand, cancers are not running particularly high. This is somewhat surprising given the withdrawal of healthcare over the past two and a half years. It suggest that something else is going on besides lack of healthcare access.
Respiratory deaths are also not running high, underlining the small role being played by COVID-19 and similar viruses in the trend.
Is the Government at any point going to acknowledge this problem and investigate it?