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expert reaction to latest ONS stats on deaths registered in England and Wales for the week ending 2 October

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have released the latest data for deaths in England and Wales, including deaths from COVID-19 in all settings. 


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

“Key data from Office for National Statistics are provisional counts of COVID-mention deaths by date of occurrence.

“My table contrasts COVID-mention deaths in England (by week of occurrence) in early March 2020 and early September 2020. Not all deaths which occurred in the week ending 2 October 2020 have yet been registered so that the likely final count will be nearer 400. During the first wave, COVID-19 deaths increased by a factor of 10, week-on-week, in the first three weeks of March 2020. The weekly rate of increase then moderated to below doubling in the first two weeks of April.

“As we approach England’s second wave, COVID-19 deaths are more than doubling fortnightly (compare yellow shading; also turquoise shading), that is: the rate of increase is currently lower and slower in than March 2020, which is the good news. The bad news is that the rate has not started to abate. By changing our close contact patterns now, we need to moderate down the rate of increase over the coming weeks, and the sooner the better. But, we shall also need to sustain those reduced contact patterns for months, not just weeks, to see us through the winter.”


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


Declared interests

Prof Sheila Bird: SMB is a member of the Royal Statistical Society’s COVID-19 Taskforce

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