The number of deaths recorded in England and Wales in recent weeks has continued to rise above 2019 levels, the Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI) has found.
The CMI's latest update shows that there were 695 more deaths in week 34 of this year (21 August to 27 August) than during the corresponding week of 2019, with mortality 7% higher than would normally be expected.
These 'excess' deaths have correlated with COVID-19 deaths, which increased from 570 in week 33 of 2021, to 668 in week 34, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. A similar trend was recorded a month ago.
This comes after mortality levels fell to a record low in the second quarter.
“COVID-19 deaths in England and Wales have risen from under 100 in early June to 668 in week 34,” said Cobus Daneel, chair of the CMI's Mortality Projections Committee.
“In recent weeks, excess mortality has been at a similar level to COVID-19 deaths, indicating that non-COVID deaths were in line with 2019 experience. This is in sharp contrast to earlier in the year, when deaths from causes other than COVID-19 were at record lows.”
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.
Its latest update comes as a growing number of people return to offices and attend mass gatherings.
Overall, the CMI estimates that there were around 101,400 more deaths than expected between the start of the pandemic and 27 August 2021, of which 28,500 occurred this year.
This comes after a report from Lane Clark & Peacock earlier this year forecast life expectancy to shorten by an average of just one month for people at the age of 65, resulting in a £4bn reduction in defined benefit pension schemes' liabilities.
“The pandemic has introduced more uncertainty and trying to understand the long-term impact of COVID-19 is challenging,” said Chris Tavener, author of the report.
“In order for there to be a significant reduction in pension scheme liabilities, we would have to assume that the pandemic will leave an everlasting hangover, with mortality rates higher than previously assumed for many, many years.”
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Author: Chris Seekings