This is why the UK coronavirus death toll is actually double the official figure

Wednesday, 22nd April 2020, 11:38 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd April 2020, 11:38 am

In its daily briefing, the government reported yesterday that 17,337 people in the UK have now died of coronavirus - but the actual figure is much higher.

The Financial Times (FT) has carried out its own analysis of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) data, and found that the actual death rate is more than double the figure reported by the UK government.

This is because the coronavirus death rate, reported by the government daily, only includes deaths of patients who have tested positive for the virus and died in hospital.

The FT analysis of the same data includes deaths that occurred outside of hospital, and as a result, estimates that more than 41,000 people have died as a result of Covid-19 in the UK as of yesterday (April 21).

Their analysis also supports evidence that the UK's coronavirus peak occurred on April 8, with deaths declining gradually since then.

75% above normal death levels

The ONS data showed that registered deaths in England and Wales were 75 per cent above normal levels in the week ending April 10 - the highest figure for over 20 years.

In total, 18,516 deaths were registered during that period, far exceeding the most recent five-year average of 10,520 for the same week of the year. Northern Ireland and Scotland saw similar patterns.

Nick Stripe, head of life events at the Office for National Statistics, told the FT the figure was “unprecedented”, especially in light of the good weather the nation has seen in the days leading up to Easter.

The number of deaths registered across the UK is running well above long-term averages as a result of the pandemic. Excess deaths from all causes stand 16,952 above the seasonal UK average since fatalities from coronavirus began to ramp up in mid-March.

It is this "all cause excess mortality" figure which is acknowledged by experts as the best way to measure the actual death toll from coronavirus.

The FT's analysis extrapolated the figure of 41,000 through using these excess mortality figures and trends in hospital deaths, assuming that the relationship between the two remained stable, as it has done so far throughout the pandemic.