Is the Second Wave Overstated?

Today, a further 1,610 people have died in the UK within 28 days of a positive Covid test – the biggest figure reported in a single day since the pandemic began, bringing the total number of deaths by that measure to over 90,000. It should be remembered than 599 deaths were reported yesterday, so today’s record number include deaths under reported yesterday and over the weekend and before. While the “deaths within 28 days” graph appears to show that the second wave is as bad as the first, the “weekly deaths by date registered” shows no such correlation.

However, according to some figures, the second wave is five times less deadly than the first wave. This is in spite of the fact we have a new variant which is between 50% and 74% more infectious. To get a real feel for how the waves compare, it is necessary to look at excess deaths rather than crude reported deaths. According to the Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI), set up by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, there have been 72,900 excess deaths from the start of the pandemic in March to the end of December.

Some 60,800 of those occurred in the first wave, but just 12,100 in the second. It means that, unlike the first wave, huge numbers of people included in the coronavirus death figures would have been expected to die of other causes in the past few months. Look at Office for National Statistics (ONS) graphs showing deaths over time and this becomes startlingly clear. While there is a mountainous peak in April as deaths soared over the average, now we are trending a little above the five-year average line. On some days towards the end of December, we were actually below it. 

Daily deaths March – December 2020

These December figures will undoubtedly rise as more deaths are registered, and have suffered from the Christmas and New Year holidays when fewer deaths than normal were recorded. But they are not likely to rise so significantly as to take us back to the extraordinary excess deaths of April.

Whilst it is clear that we are having a deadly second wave, with thousands more people dying than would be expected ordinarily at this time of year, but  it is not the tens of thousands more PHE would have you believe. click full source

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