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expert comment on COVID-19 deaths in Scotland and in England & Wales in the first and second waves

A comment from Professor Sheila Bird on COVID-mention deaths registered in Scotland and in England & Wales during the first and second waves.


Prof Sheila Bird, formerly Programme Leader, MRC Biostatistics Unit, said:

“In Scotland’s second wave, COVID-19 deaths by registration-week (see Table) were trebling fortnightly between the weeks beginning 7 September and 19 October [running rate  of 3.3 that is: {10+20+25+75+106}/{5+11+10+20+25}; but – thankfully – the rate of increase shows early signs of having moderated (compare recent yellow shading; also turquoise turquoise). Scotland’s COVID-mention deaths in the registration-weeks beginning 19th October to 9th November were less-than-doubling per fortnight [running rate of 485/274 = 1.8] and the registration-week beginning 16 November has seen the first decrease in Scotland’s COVID-mention deaths.

“My second table contrasts 11 weeks of wave 1 versus wave 2 for England and Wales; and for Scotland. The periods are defined slightly differently because the Office for National Statistics definition of registration-week diverges from the harmonized definition adopted by National Records of Scotland. Even so, I’ll the two second waves better next week. Slight mis-alignment between nations does not alter the key finding that, on both sides of the border, excess deaths in wave 2 are, as yet, fewer than the number of COVID-mention deaths< By contrast, excess deaths in  wave 1 greatly exceeded (by about 25%) each country’s tally of COVID-mention deaths.

“The first 11 weeks of wave 2 have claimed about only a fifth of the lives that ended as COVID-mention deaths in the first 11 weeks of wave 1. Wave 2 is less sharply peaked but will last much longer than 11 weeks. Nonetheless, we and our governments should take some heart; but not rest on our laurels nor let up on safeguarding each other.”



All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink:



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