Excess deaths in the UK 2020

Last Updated on 10 November 2020 by gerry

Weekly death registrations during 2020 in each part of the UK as % difference from same week’s average 2015-2019

Total weekly death registrations (England)

Total weekly death registrations (Scotland)

Total weekly death registrations (Wales)

Total weekly death registrations (N Ireland)

Sources

Notes

  1. During the Covid-19 pandemic the 3 relevant statistics agencies in the UK state (ONS, NRS and NISRA) publish provisional data on weekly death registrations in each jurisdiction.
  2. Presenting this unprecedented spike in mortality as a percentage excess compared to 5 years previously strikes me as the most accessible measure to grasp the serious nature of what we are experiencing. It also facilitates a reasonable comparison between the different parts of the UK.
  3. I'd like to have compared the UK data with the equivalent data from the Republic of Ireland, but unfortunately they don't publish their death registration data until the following year.
  4. Scotland's data (NRS) is published just 5 days after the week ends, i.e. every Wednesday, then comes Northern Ireland's data (NISRA) each Friday and finally the data for England & Wales (ONS) coming out the following Tuesday.
  5. In Northern Ireland, NISRA interprets "Week 1" as the week ending 10 Jan 2020, whereas the other agencies list "Week 1" as the week ending 3 Jan 2020. For the purposes of the charts above, I am using Week 1 as the week ending 3 Jan 2020 across all agencies.
  6. The european mortality monitoring (EuroMOMO) project uses a more statistically robust methodology for comparing excess deaths across different Europe: the z-score. This is a more standardised measurement, for sure, but it isn't as immediately relateable, in my opinion, as knowing how many more people are dying each week in percentage terms.
  7. The comparison charts on EuroMOMO for excess mortality in different European countries are often referenced to show that the UK stands out with much larger z-scores than other countries, particularly the Republic of Ireland. However I can't find a way to examine the data behind the EuroMOMO charts and they have themselves explicitly highlighted that the data from the Irish state is problematic as death registration procedures have been curtailed in the Republic of Ireland during the pandemic.

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