There have been fewer deaths in England and Wales than would normally be expected this year for the fourth week in a row, analysis by the Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI) has found.
Based on data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the CMI's latest mortality update shows that there were 7% fewer deaths registered between July 4 and July 10 (week 28) than during the same period last year.
Mortality was 0.5% lower in week 27, and 7% lower in week 26 than in the corresponding weeks of 2019, reversing the steep rise in excess deaths recorded at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
This comes after health secretary Matt Hancock recently ordered Public Health England (PHE) to urgently review the way that daily death statistics are reported in the country.
“The current method counts all people who have tested positive for coronavirus at any time and since died of any cause, so is likely to have overstated deaths from COVID-19 in recent weeks,” said Cobus Daneel, chair of the CMI Mortality Projections Committee.
“Excess mortality is a preferable measure as it is not affected by how deaths are classified. For the fourth week running, we see fewer deaths than we might expect at this time of year.”
Owned by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, the CMI has been publishing analysis of the UK's mortality rate during the coronavirus crisis through its mortality monitor.
The latest update suggests that the total of number of excess deaths in the UK since the start of the pandemic is around 61,800, down from a previous estimate of 63,500.
“Our calculations rely on data for registered deaths, and we are conscious that in recent weeks deaths may have been registered earlier or later than in previous years,” the CMI said.
“Consequently, comparisons of mortality between 2020 and earlier years may not be on a like-for-like basis."
The CMI's next mortality updates is expected on August 4 for week 30.
Author: Chris Seekings
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