Excess registered deaths in England and Wales during the COVID-19 pandemic, March 2020 to May 2020

04/23/2020
by   Drew M Thomas, et al.
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Official counts of COVID-19 deaths have been criticized for potentially including people who did not die of COVID-19 but merely died with COVID-19. I address that critique by fitting a generalized additive model to weekly counts of all deaths registered in England and Wales during the 2010s. The model produces baseline rates of death registrations expected without the COVID-19 pandemic, and comparing those baselines to recent counts of registered deaths exposes the emergence of excess deaths late in March 2020. By April's end, England and Wales registered 45,300 ± 3200 excess deaths of adults aged 45+. Through 8 May, the last day of available all-deaths data, 50,400 ± 3600 were registered (about 53 corresponding count of 36,870 death certificates which mention COVID-19, and the Department of Health and Social Care's hospital-focused count of 29,057 deaths, are appreciably less, implying that their counting methods have underestimated, not overestimated, the pandemic's true death toll. If underreporting rates have held steady during May, about 56,600 direct and indirect COVID-19 deaths might have been registered through 25 May but not yet publicly reported in full.

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04/23/2020

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