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expert reaction to ONS stats on deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional: week ending 9 July 2021

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have released provisional counts of the number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 9 July 2021.


Prof Kevin McConway, Emeritus Professor of Applied Statistics, The Open University, said:

“The latest ONS weekly bulletin in death registrations in England and Wales takes the data up to the week ending 9 July.  Most of what’s there is predictable from what was already known from other sources.  Death registrations with Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate went up by two-thirds compared to the previous week, but there were still only 183 of them.  That’s very small indeed compared to the numbers of deaths in the peaks, and also very small in relation to the numbers of infections – but it is the highest we’ve seen since the end of April.  The biggest percentage rises week on week are actually in older people rather than younger, but numbers are still very small and that might just be a statistical blip.

“Actually the most interesting thing in the bulletin, I’d say, is in registrations of all-cause deaths.  They were up by 11%  in the week ending 9 July compared to the previous week, and were 6% above the 5-year average for 2015-19, with the increase spread across most age groups.  This can’t be because of the increase in Covid-related deaths, because the Covid numbers are too small to have that sort of impact on the total.  And we don’t yet have data on what caused most of these deaths.  I suppose the increase might have something to do with delays in death registrations – we’ll eventually find out from the numbers of deaths analysed by the date the death occurred rather than when it was registered, but those figures are incomplete for the most recent weeks.  I have no clear idea what else might have caused the increase.”



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



Declared interests

Prof Kevin McConway: “I am a Trustee of the SMC and a member of its Advisory Committee.  I am also a member of the Public Data Advisory Group, which provides expert advice to the Cabinet Office on aspects of public understanding of data during the pandemic.  My quote above is in my capacity as an independent professional statistician.”

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