COVID-19 Mortality – ONS Update

July 8, 2020

Jason Oke, Carl Heneghan

We are tracking the ONS data on deaths, which updates every Tuesday.

How can we tell if COVID-19 is the principal cause of these deaths?  Or if they would have occurred in the absence of COVID-19, particularly in the elderly and people with chronic health problems? One way is to examine the death rates and determine if more people are dying than we would expect. What we want to know is whether the reported COVID deaths represent an “excess” over the norm.

The weekly number of registered deaths for all ages.

The data release refers to the week ending 26 June 2020 (Week 26) in which there were 8,979 death registered in the week.

  • 606 deaths mentioned “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)”, the lowest number since week 12.
  • All regions, with the exception of North East registering fewer deaths than last week.

Excess Deaths

There were  360 fewer deaths than week 25 and 314 (3.4%) fewer deaths than the five-year average for the corresponding week.

Deaths in care homes and hospitals were fewer than the five-year average (103 and 815 deaths lower respectively). Deaths in private homes were 745 higher than the five-year average.

In England and Wales, there have been 49,607 COVID deaths up to week 26.

  • In weeks 1 to 10, there 4,708 fewer Non-COVID deaths than expected
  • In weeks 11 to 18, there were 13,015 excess non-COVID deaths
  • In weeks 19 to 26, there were 3,863 fewer Non-COVID deaths than expected

The number of deaths up to 26 June was 335,578 which is 54,023 more than the five-year average (4,444 more Non-COVID deaths than expected so far).

Total number of COVID-19 deaths by ONS and GOV.UK

Reported by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on GOV.UK (26th June) ONS: Deaths that occurred up to 26th June but were registered up to 4th July (E&W). NRS for Scotland. NISRA for NI.

Difference (%)

England 38,982 47,705 8723 (22%)
Wales 1,502 2,438 936 (62%)
Scotland 2482 4,155 1673 (67%)
Northern Ireland 548 826 278 (51%)
Total (26th June) 43,514 55,124 11,610 (27%)
Only includes deaths where the patient has  a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 test Contains deaths where COVID-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate

The Trend in Deaths on GOV.UK

The number of deaths involving COVID-19 reported on GOV.UK up to 26 June 2020, England and registered by 4th July

The trend in COVID-19 deaths continues to decline but is slowing over time. It is currently showing an average reduction of 4 deaths per day.

Disclaimer:  the article has not been peer-reviewed; it should not replace individual clinical judgement, and the sources cited should be checked. The views expressed in this commentary represent the views of the authors and not necessarily those of the host institution, the NHS, the NIHR, or the Department of Health and Social Care. The views are not a substitute for professional medical advice.


Jason Oke is a Senior Statistician at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences and Module Coordinator for Statistical Computing with R and Stata (EBHC Med Stats), and Introduction to Statistics for Health Care Research (EBHC), as part of the Evidence-Based Health Care Programme.

Carl Heneghan is Professor of Evidence-Based Medicine, Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine and Director of Studies for the Evidence-Based Health Care Programme. (Full bio and disclosure statement here)