The ONS announced on Friday that there were 38,611 deaths registered in England in June, which is 9.1% more than in May, and 0.8% more than the five-year average. However, these increases are relative to an exceptionally low value the month before. What about the age-standardised mortality rate (which is the best overall measure)?
In June, the age-standardised mortality rate was 12.5% higher than in May, but was still 6.1% lower than the five-year average. It was also the second-lowest figure on record for that month. (The only lower figure was observed in June of 2019.)
This means that England’s age-standardised mortality rate has been below the five-year average for four consecutive months. In other words, we’ve had four months in a row of “negative excess mortality”.
This chart from the ONS shows the age-standardised mortality rate for the first six months of the year, each year, going back to 2001:
Although 2021’s figure was higher than the figure for 2019, it was 3.6% lower than the figure for 2015 and 2.4% lower than the figure for 2018. This means that – despite higher-than-expected mortality in the winter – the overall level of mortality in the first half of 2021 was actually lower than three years before.
The past four months have “cancelled out” more than 85% of the age-adjusted excess mortality observed in January and February. Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 was not among the leading causes of death in June. All in all, the first half of 2021 has been pretty normal with respect to the average level of mortality.