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Excess Mortality during the Covid-19 pandemic: Early evidence from England and Wales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article number113101
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Volume258
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020

King's Authors

Abstract

The Covid-19 pandemic has claimed many lives in the UK and globally. The objective of this paper is to study whether the number of deaths not registered as Covid-19-related has increased compared to what would have been expected in the absence of the pandemic. Reasons behind this might include Covid-19 underreporting, avoiding visits to hospitals or GPs, and the effects of the lockdown. I used weekly ONS data on the number of deaths in England and Wales that did not officially involve Covid-19 over the period 2015–2020. Simply observing trends is not sufficient as spikes in deaths may occasionally occur. I thus followed a difference-in-differences econometric approach to study whether there was a relative increase in deaths not registered as Covid-19-related during the pandemic, compared to a control. Results suggest that there were an additional 968 weekly deaths that officially did not involve Covid-19, compared to what would have otherwise been expected. It is possible that some people are dying from Covid-19 without being diagnosed, and/or that there are excess deaths due to other causes as a result of the pandemic. Analysing the cause of death for any excess non-covid-19 deaths will shed light upon the reasons for the increase in such deaths and will help design appropriate policy responses to save lives.

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