ONS Registered Deaths in England and Wales – Week ending 27th July

August 4, 2020

Carl Heneghan and Nick DeVito

Each week we track the ONS data on deaths, which updates every Tuesday.

In the week ending the 24th of July, 8,891 deaths were registered in England and Wales (161 fewer than the five-year average). This is the 6th week in a row that we have observed fewer deaths (1,413 fewer deaths than expected over these six weeks).

There were 217 deaths registered with COVID, but only 167 actually occurred in week 30 (an average of 24 a day).

These 167 registered deaths in week 30 equate to one registered death for every 353,987 people in England and Wales – roughly 3 deaths per million population.

In over 85s, those most at risk,  COVID deaths continue to fall – 71 people died in week 30 – approximately 49 deaths per million in over 85s).  This is a substantial reduction (98% fewer) than the peak in registered deaths in week 16 when 3,435 deaths occurred in over 85s occurred (approx 2,400 per million).

Of note, some deaths will not be related to active viral infection, and COVID will not be the immediate cause for all of them. Individuals could have tested positive some time ago and died from complications or from another cause and will, therefore, still have COVID on their death certificate as an underlying cause

There were no deaths in children under 14 for week 30. The last death was in week 23 (week ending 5th June) for this age group. In children aged 1 to 14  there have been five COVID deaths in the total outbreak this year – a very low risk – approximately one registered death for every 2 million children aged  1-14 (population estimate for this age band 10,004,735).

Table. Death Occurences in the  week ending 27th July (week 30) and the population required for one death to occur

Age bands number of deaths 1 death per population
Under 1 year 0 none
Age 01-14 0 none
Age 15-44 3 7,482,638
Age 45-64 10 1,516,212
Age 65-74 28 210,962
Age 75-84 55 63,217
Age 85+ 71 20,386
Total 167 353,987

It remains concerning that while the number of deaths in care homes, hospitals and other communal establishments remains below the five-year average the number of deaths in private homes remains higher than the five-year average (727 more deaths in week 30).  The number of deaths in the home setting is almost 40% higher than the total number registered with COVID-19 in any setting over the last six weeks (4,526 versus 2,799).

The 167 registered deaths that occurred in week 30 do not match the Public Health England data, which reported 442 deaths in England alone for the week to the 24th of July. Given the inaccuracies in the PHE data set, it should be discontinued.

Nick DeVito is a Doctoral Researcher at the EBM DataLab.

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)

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.