Saturday 30 January 2021

2020 did not see an unprecedentedly high number of deaths in England and Wales

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) reported that the number of deaths in 2020 in England and Wales was 77,161 higher than the number registered in 2019. This was the biggest year-on-year increase since 1940.

You can only die once. The flu season in 2019 was very mild, which meant more people than normal survived to die in 2020.

The ONS reported that the total number of deaths in England and Wales was 506,790 in 2013, 501,424 in 2014, 529,655 in 2015, 525,048 in 2016, 533,253 in 2017, 541,589 in 2018, 530,841 in 2019 and 608,00 in 2020.

Much more important than these numbers is the fact that the 'age-standardised mortality rate' (adjusted for changes in both the size and structure of the population) in 2020 was the highest since 2008.

It was no higher than any of the years before 2008. The death rate in England and Wales in 2020 was lower than in the early 2000s.

Without lockdown another 97,000 would have died from Covid-19 this winter alone, according to a government estimate, but that is of course a guess. It can't be known what would have happened has looser restrictions been tried.

Estimates and modelling are one thing but there should be evidence by now after ten months of the pandemic - there should be an obvious reduction in deaths in places with lockdowns compared to places without a lockdown, but there isn't.

Peru has had the harshest, longest lockdown and has the highest death rate per capita in Latin America.

Romania had no lockdown after May and Covid deaths have been falling to the extent that they have reopened restaurants.

Belarus lied about the number of deaths and the real numbers were three times what the government said. Still, despite no restrictions of any sort, the number of deaths per capita in Belarus is no worse than with a bad flu season.

The report also says that more than 100,000 people are likely to die from non-coronavirus causes because of the pandemic. 40,000 may die over the coming years because of the economic consequences of the lockdowns. Again it's a guess.

I know don't know the figures for all of Europe but Swedish deaths in 2020 were about the same as in 2000-2003 and about 2.5% higher than 2018, despite not having a lockdown.

Two thirds of Covid-related deaths in Sweden three or four months ago had occurred in old people's homes and the average age of death was 84. Three quarters of Covid-related deaths, where Covid was mentioned on the death certificate, in old people's homes in one Swedish province were not in fact deaths from Covid.


  1. Again, as conspiracy lovers love, figures may be massaged to suit ones personal limited worldview.

    1. I don't believe in conspiracy theories but in cock-up theories. I would have no idea how to massage figures - I read history at university not accounting. I have expressed the figures I found very fairly, I think, pointing out that many deaths were (I presume) prevented by lockdown. I don't see what my worldview has to do with it.

    2. I wonder if you really think dealing with the pandemic would have gone better had Jeremy Corbyn, for whom I assume you voted, been PM or were we still in the EU. When cabinet ministers saw a "best endeavours" clause in the AstraZeneca contract like the one in the EU contract with AZ, Alok Sharma and Matt Hancock "insisted on a legally binding promise to serve Britain first". Hancock is not the complete idiot we all thought.

      Last night he announced, “We have now vaccinated 9.2 million people across the UK. That includes 931,204 vaccinations just this weekend. To put that into context: that’s one in every 60 adults in the whole UK – vaccinated in one single weekend…” Not bad - and the whole world owes the UK a big debt of gratitude for being the midwife of the AZ vaccine, though the European Commission is not grateful.

    3. “I want to say this to our international partners,” said Mr Hancock. “Of course I’m delighted about how well this is going at home. But I believe fundamentally that the vaccine roll-out is a global effort… So we will protect UK supply, and play our part to ensure the whole world can get the jab…”

  2. There's definitely something fishy going on.