Generated on 2021-01-04
As we move further into winter, we have made improvements to the model used to estimate excess deaths. Adjustments have been made to account for changes in the pattern of death registrations over Christmas, to account for different seasonal patterns in death rates by age group, and different baseline trends by age group in each ethnic and deprivation group.
A limited version of the report will now be in place until late January while we make further refinements to the model to enable more accurate estimates of excess deaths for 2021. A full update to the methodological document will also be provided at that point.
Monitoring excess mortality provides understanding of the impact of COVID-19 during the course of the pandemic and beyond. Excess mortality in this report is defined as the number of deaths in 2020 which are above the number expected based on mortality rates in earlier years.
In this report the expected number of deaths is modelled using five years of data from preceding years to estimate the number of deaths we would expect on each week through the course of the pandemic. Excess deaths are estimated by week and in total since 21 March 2020, based on the date each death was registered rather than when it occurred. Excess deaths are presented by age, sex, region, ethnic group and level of deprivation.
The trend in total excess deaths by week, in England, since week ending 27 March 2020 is shown in Figure 1. Numbers above each of the columns show the total number of excess deaths and how these compare with the expected number based on modelled estimates for 2015 to 2019. For example, in week ending 24 April 2020 there were 10,003 excess deaths and this was nearly two times (1.92 times higher) the expected number of deaths in this week. When fewer deaths than expected occur in a week, the column is coloured grey.
Excess deaths where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate are shown in orange. If the number of deaths is not shown in the orange part of the column, that means the total excess was less than the number of deaths with a mention of COVID-19, indicating fewer deaths from other causes than expected in these weeks.
The number of excess deaths without COVID-19 mentioned on the certificate (shown in the white part of the column) may be due to an increase in deaths from other causes during the period of the pandemic but may also reflect under-reporting of deaths involving COVID-19.
The trend in the total cumulative number of excess deaths in England since 21 March 2020 is shown in Figure 2.