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An exercise in understanding the Coronavirus Death Figures Part V

Christmas and New Year have been and gone, for me I used this time to relax, recharge, disconnect most electronics, eat and get very very merry!!!

But I am now back, and on the 30th December 2020, the UK government put Liverpool in Tier 3, and today we are awaiting to hear the latest lockdown shenanigans.

So naturally, I thought let see what the mortality rate for 2020 is compared to the last 10 years

Throughout this series of data analysis I have been using the data from the Office of National Statistic website and downloaded their England and Wales Death figures from 2010 to 2020.

Although the media seems to like to scare the general public by focusing on the number of deaths due to this pandemic Covid 19, I wanted t have a look at the bigger picture, in order to really put things into perspective.

Office of Nation Statistics Total Number of Deaths for all Ages 2010 - 2020

With the exception of the period from weeks 13 to 23 for most of 2020 the data shows that the number of deaths this year is less than previous years

Now here's an interesting observation, from week 25, w/c 15/06/2020, the no. of deaths in 2020, was less than the previous 3/4 years, but the government deemed it necessary to make mask wearing mandatory on public transport on this day.

By the time the government made it mandatory to mask wearing in shops, on the 24th July 2020, week 30, w/c 20/07/2020 the No. deaths was 8,891, which was the 2nd lowest recorded number of deaths in the last 4 years!

In this series of blogs, I have also looked at the number of deaths due to respiratory disease, and for most of the year this has been lower, which really surprised me due to the use of ventilators in treating Covid-19.

If you follow the media logic, there should be an significant increase in deaths where the underlying cause was respiratory disease, which has the classification  (ICD-10 J00-J99), not only at the beginning of the year, when nobody was aware that there was a virus attacking the respiratory system, but more importantly, I am expecting the no deaths due to respiratory to follow the trend of the chart above.

That's to say the no. of deaths to increase from Week 13 and peak at week 16, w/c 3/04/2020, before tailing off.

In the last chart I have plotted not only the deaths due to respiratory disease, but also the deaths where Covid was mentioned.

Well lets see what the data shows.........

Office of National Statistics Total Deaths where underlying cause was respiratory disease

Well, well, well!!!!!

Throughout 2020 the no. deaths due to respiratory disease did not exceed previous years, in actual fact looking at the last half of the year it is the lowest for the last 10 years!!!

Looking at the separate deaths where Covid was mentioned on the death certificate, with the peak of Week 16, the w/c 17th April 2020 with 8,757, and it continues to fall.

When the UK introduced mandatory mask wearing the number of deaths for week 30, w/c 24th July 2020 was 217, and it declines until week 38, w/c 18th Sept where we can see the latest rise in the chart.

I guess the masks and/or facial coverings are not barrier to the transmission of this pesky virus.

In the ONS dataset it has the following caveat:

Note: Deaths could possibly be counted in both causes presented. If a death had an underlying respiratory cause and a mention of COVID-19 then it would appear in both counts.

My question still for you is, if a person can only die once how can it be counted as 2 deaths?

Surely you record the primary cause of death, as the actual cause of death?

Is it just me that thinks there is a world of difference between dying of Covid-19 and dying of a respiratory disease, but being found positive for Covid-19, which now includes a death within 28 days of a positive test, or am I just splitting hairs?

What are your thoughts on this?

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