Recently, the UK has entered the third wave of excess deaths during the pandemic, with larger numbers of deaths than expected.
But what does this mean?
As unfortunate as it sounds, there will be a number of “expected” deaths at any given time of the year, and “excess” deaths mean numbers above this level.
Data analysts closely compare the number of deaths in UK hospitals every week, but during the course of the pandemic, the number has risen.
There have been two significant peaks in the number of excess deaths since the pandemic began, and the UK is now heading towards a third.
In the first wave of Covid-19 infections (around April 2020), t the first significant increase in the number of excess deaths occurred, but coronavirus was often not diagnosed as the cause of death purely due to the fact that the virus was relatively new, and tests were still being developed and unreliable.
There was a small break when excess deaths were almost back to normal. Then, there was a second phase during the winter of 2020 and early into 2021. By then, testing had come into place and the majority of excess deaths were linked to Covid-19.
Once this second wave subsided, the total of excess deaths fell. The weeks between March and July 2021 even experienced fewer deaths than expected.
Since this summer, the number of excess deaths has been climbing steadily, which may potentially lead to a third phase.
However, not all the excess deaths have been due to Covid-19. In the week ending on the 12th November, 2,047 more deaths were registered than during the same period between 2015 to 2019, but Covid-19 was mentioned on death certificates for only 1,197 people.
Since July, the number of total deaths has been higher than the weekly average for the 5 years before the pandemic.
So what could be the reason for this tragic increase?
It is most likely due to the pressure and strain that the NHS has been under since the start of the pandemic, and even more so due to their recent staff shortages, as they are less able to treat patients as easily as they used to.
Data suggests that cardiovascular disease and strokes were the most prominent conditions that are contributing to the recent unexpectedly high mortality rates.
Some think that these deaths are caused by the harms of previous lockdowns. Dr Dean Burnett, an honorary research associate at Cardiff University, responded, “the pandemic exists, whether there’s a lockdown or not.
While lockdown may have a number of negative consequences for mental health, there’s little or no evidence to say that these consequences are any worse than what we’d see in the same situation in the absence of lockdown.”
Written by Jade Andrew Research compiled by Hugo Denage