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expert comment on COVID-mention deaths in England and Wales

A comment from Professor Sheila Bird on COVID-mention deaths in England and Wales in case useful.


Prof Sheila Bird, Formerly Programme Leader, MRC Biostatistics Unit, University of Cambridge, said:

“Tracking COVID-mention deaths by week of occurrence matters.  Registration delays are longer in England & Wales than in Scotland.

“In the vaccine-era, tables on COVID-mention deaths by week of occurrence should heed ONS Infection Survey’s prevalence estimates some 2 weeks earlier.  Hence, at England’s Alpha peak (during 27 Dec 2020 to 2 January 2021), 2.08% (95% CI: 2.0% to 2.2%) of the population tested positive for COVID-19; in the Delta-era, 0.61% (95% CI: 0.5% to 0.7%) of the population had COVID during 27 June to 3 July 2021 vs 1.44% (1.3% to 1.5%) during 26 September to 2 October 2021 with Delta peak (during 16 to 30 October 2021) at 2.02% (95% CI: 1.9% to 2.1%).  In the Omicron era, England’s prevalence reached 2.83% (95% CI: 2.7% to 3.0%) during 13 to 19 December 2021 and had more than doubled to 6.85% (95% CI: 6.6% to 7.1%) during 31 December 2021 to 6 January 2022.

“In England & Wales, wave 1 accounted for 52,000 COVID-mention deaths (to nearest 1000), the peak weekly toll having been 8,350 deaths (nearest 10).  Wave 2 in England & Wales accounted for 69% more COVID-mention deaths (88,000 to nearest 1000) with a weekly peak of 9,060 deaths (nearest 10).

“Wave 3 for England & Wales dates from mid-June 2021 but is shown below from the week ending 17 September 2021.

“With both pupils and universities returned by 1 November 2021, and as autumn turned to winter, caution was again needed – as COVID-mention deaths which occurred in the last week of October and first week of November will have exceeded 1000 per week.

“Booster vaccinations and Omicron both accelerated thro’ December 2021, with Omicron dominant pre-Xmas with England’s proportion testing positive already higher during 10 to 16 December than the Alpha and Delta peaks.  Resurgence in COVID-mention deaths is evident from the week ended 31 December 2021 with a near-doubling in occurrences likely between the week ended 24 December and 7 January 2022 (when fully registered).  Continued caution in January 2022 is prudent.”



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



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