There has been a significant increase in the number of COVID-19-related deaths registered in the UK over the third quarter of this year, the Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI) has revealed.
The CMI's latest update shows that there were 1,045 COVID-19 deaths in week 39 of 2021 (25 September to 1 October), compared with just 181 in week 26 at the end of the second quarter.
The findings also show that there were 34,300 more deaths from all causes in the first quarter of this year than there were in the corresponding quarter of 2019. However, there were 9,900 fewer deaths than would normally be expected in the second quarter, and then 10,900 more in the third quarter.
Overall, the CMI now that there have been around 108,100 of these 'excess' deaths in the UK between the start of the pandemic and 1 October 2021, of which 35,200 have occurred this year.
Looking at England and Wales specifically, the analysis shows that there were 700 more deaths from all causes in week 39 of this year than in the corresponding week of 2019, with mortality 7% higher than would normally be expected.
Furthermore, the analysis found a striking difference in how mortality rates compare to 2020 at different ages. While mortality at older ages is significantly lower in 2021 so far, mortality for the under-65s is around 3% higher.
"Mortality rates in the second quarter of 2021 were at a record low for the time of year, but every week of the third quarter has had mortality rates above pre-pandemic 2019 levels,” said Cobus Daneel, chair of the CMI's Mortality Projections Committee.
“Despite that, and significant case numbers, total excess deaths during the third wave are currently much lower than during the first two waves.
“Remarkably, while overall mortality rates are lower in 2021 than in 2020, that is not the case for the under-65s, who have seen mortality increase still further this 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, based on data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The latest update comes after longevity specialists Club Vita revealed earlier this month that UK life expectancy at birth has fallen by more than 10 weeks since 2017.
Its findings were based on the first ONS national life tables to include data from during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Steven Baxter, head of innovation and development at Club Vita, said: “The inclusion of 2020 data will take account of the large number of COVID-19-related deaths, but won’t consider any 'bounce-back' to lower mortality levels that may be around the corner.
“We will need to keep a close eye on the emerging 2021 and 2022 data to see whether it will be a similar story following our generation’s one in 100-year global pandemic.”
Image credit: iStock
Author: Chris Seekings