Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional: week ending 22 January 2021

Provisional counts of the number of deaths registered in England and Wales, including deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19), by age, sex and region, in the latest weeks for which data are available.

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Cyswllt:
Email Sarah Caul

Dyddiad y datganiad:
2 February 2021

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
9 February 2021

1. Main points

  • The number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 22 January 2021 (Week 3) was 18,676; this was 634 more deaths than in the previous week (Week 2) and is the third highest number of weekly deaths recorded during the pandemic.
  • In Week 3, the number of deaths registered in England and Wales was 41.3% above the five-year average (5,460 deaths higher).
  • Of the deaths registered in Week 3 in England and Wales, 8,422 mentioned "novel coronavirus (COVID-19)"; this is the second highest weekly number recorded during the pandemic and an increase of 1,177 deaths compared with Week 2.
  • In Week 3, deaths involving COVID-19 accounted for 45.1% of all deaths in England and Wales; this is the highest proportion of deaths involving COVID-19 that has been recorded during the pandemic.
  • Of the 8,422 deaths involving COVID-19 in Week 3 in England and Wales, 7,592 had this recorded as the underlying cause of death (90.1%).
  • Of the 5,696 deaths that involved Influenza and Pneumonia, 330 had this recorded as the underlying cause of death (5.8%).
  • In England, the total number of registered deaths increased from 16,845 (Week 2) to 17,567 (Week 3), the third highest total recorded during the pandemic; all English regions had a higher number of deaths than the five-year average for the 11th week in a row.
  • In Week 3, the number of registered deaths involving COVID-19 increased in all English regions compared with Week 2, with the South East of England recording the highest number.
  • In Wales, the total number of registered deaths in Week 3 was 265 higher than the five-year average; total deaths in Wales have decreased by 93 deaths in Week 3.
  • In Wales, the number of registered deaths involving COVID-19 decreased from 467 (Week 2) to 447 (Week 3), the third highest recorded at any point during the pandemic.
  • We estimate that the number of deaths actually occurring (rather than registered) in Week 3 in England and Wales was between 17,342 and 21,653.
  • The number of deaths registered in the UK in the week ending 22 January 2021 was 20,693, which was 5,712 higher than the five-year average; of deaths registered in the UK in Week 3, 9,052 deaths involved COVID-19, that is 1,281 higher than in Week 2.
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2. Deaths registered by week

Figure 1: The number of deaths was above the five-year average in Week 3

Number of deaths registered by week, England and Wales, 28 December 2019 to 22 January 2021

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Notes:

  1. Figures exclude deaths of non-residents.
  2. Based on date a death was registered rather than occurred.
  3. All figures for 2020 and 2021 are provisional.
  4. The number of deaths registered in 2020 Weeks 19, 20, 22, 23, 36, 37, 52 and 53 and in Week 1 2021 were affected by the early May, late May, August, Christmas and New Year Bank Holidays (Friday 8 May 2020, Monday 25 May 2020, Monday 31 August 2020, Friday 25 December 2020, Monday 28 December 2020, Friday 1 January 2021); the impact of the early May Bank Holiday was analysed in our Week 20 bulletin.
  5. The Week 52 five-year average is used to compare against Week 53 deaths.
  6. The five-year average has been provided for 2015 to 2019 (rather than 2016 to 2020) because of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on deaths registered in 2020. The average for 2015 to 2019 provides a comparison of the number of deaths expected per week in a usual (non-pandemic) year.

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The provisional number of deaths registered in England and Wales increased from 18,042 in Week 2 (week ending 15 January 2021) to 18,676 in Week 3 (week ending 22 January 2021). This is the third highest number of weekly deaths recorded during the pandemic; the only weeks with more deaths in 2020 and 2021 were weeks 16 and 17 of 2020. The number of deaths was 41.3% above the five-year average (5,460 deaths higher).

In England, the number of deaths increased from 16,845 in Week 2 to 17,567 in Week 3, which was 5,197 deaths (42.0%) higher than the Week 3 five-year average (Figure 1). This is the third highest weekly total of the pandemic.

In Wales, the number of deaths decreased from 1,170 in Week 2 to 1,077 in Week 3, which was 265 deaths (32.6%) higher than the Week 3 five-year average (Figure 1).

Figure 2: The number of deaths involving COVID-19 increased in Week 3

Deaths involving and due to COVID-19, and Influenza and Pneumonia, England and Wales, deaths registered in 2020 and 2021

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Notes:

  1. Figures include deaths of non-residents.
  2. Based on date a death was registered rather than occurred.
  3. All figures for 2020 and 2021 are provisional.
  4. The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10) definitions are as follows: coronavirus (COVID-19) (U07.1 and U07.2) and Influenza and Pneumonia (J09-J18).
  5. A death can be registered with both COVID-19 and Influenza and Pneumonia mentioned on the death certificate. Deaths where both were mentioned have been counted in both categories.
  6. We use the term "due to COVID-19" or "due to Influenza and Pneumonia" when referring only to deaths where that illness was recorded as the underlying cause of death. We use the term "involving COVID-19" or "involving Influenza and Pneumonia" when referring to deaths that had that illness mentioned anywhere on the death certificate, whether as an underlying cause or not.
  7. The number of deaths registered in 2020 Weeks 19, 20, 22, 23, 36, 37, 52 and 53 and in Week 1 2021 were affected by the early May, late May, August, Christmas and New Year Bank Holidays (Friday 8 May 2020, Monday 25 May 2020, Monday 31 August 2020, Friday 25 December 2020, Monday 28 December 2020, Friday 1 January 2021); the impact of the early May Bank Holiday was analysed in our Week 20 bulletin.
  8. The Week 52 five-year average is used to compare against Week 53 deaths.
  9. The five-year average has been provided for 2015 to 2019 (rather than 2016 to 2020) because of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on deaths registered in 2020. The average for 2015 to 2019 provides a comparison of the number of deaths expected per week in a usual (non-pandemic) year.

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The number of death registrations in England and Wales involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) increased from 7,245 in Week 2 to 8,422 in Week 3 – a 16.2% increase. This is the second highest number of deaths registered involving COVID-19 recorded during the pandemic, exceeded only by week 16 (week commencing 17 April 2020). Of all deaths registered in Week 3, 45.1% mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate; this is the highest proportion of deaths involving COVID-19 that has been recorded during the pandemic.

In England, the number of deaths involving COVID-19 in week 3 was 7,956, accounting for 45.3% of all deaths. This is the highest proportion of deaths involving COVID-19 of the pandemic. In Wales, there were 447 deaths involving COVID-19, accounting for 41.5% of all deaths. This was also the highest proportion of deaths involving COVID-19 recorded during the pandemic.

Of the 8,422 deaths in England and Wales that involved COVID-19, 7,592 had this recorded as the underlying cause of death (90.1%, Figure 2). Of the 5,696 deaths that involved Influenza and Pneumonia, 330 had this recorded as the underlying cause of death (5.8%).

Deaths that involved both COVID-19, and Influenza and Pneumonia have been included in both categories for consistency when comparing with the underlying cause of death. Influenza and Pneumonia has been included for comparison, as a well-understood cause of death involving respiratory infection that is likely to have somewhat similar risk factors to COVID-19. More detailed analysis is available in our Deaths due to coronavirus (COVID-19) compared with deaths from influenza and pneumonia release.

We have developed an experimental statistical model to estimate the number of deaths that actually occurred in a given week, rather than the number registered. For Week 3, we estimate that 19,288 deaths occurred in England and Wales, with a 95% confidence interval of 17,342 to 21,653. This is around 6,700 more than the mean observed in years 2015 to 2019 and an increase of 699 from the 2021 week 2 estimate of 18,619 (18,025 to 19,352), which compares with the mean observed in years 2015 to 2019 of 12,860 deaths.

These are provisional estimates that assume the pattern of occurrences can be predicted based on experience in previous years. The estimate for the most recent week always has a wider margin of error than for earlier weeks, so it should be treated with caution.

Figure 3: Deaths not involving COVID-19 were below the five-year average in Week 3

Number of deaths registered by week, England and Wales, 28 December 2019 to 22 January 2021

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Notes:

  1. Figures include deaths of non-residents.
  2. Based on date a death was registered rather than occurred.
  3. All figures for 2020 and 2021 are provisional.
  4. The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10) definitions are as follows; coronavirus (COVID-19) (U07.1 and U07.2).
  5. The number of deaths registered in 2020 Weeks 19, 20, 22, 23, 36, 37, 52 and 53 and in Week 1 2021 were affected by the Early May, Late May, August, Christmas and New Year Bank Holidays (Friday 8 May 2020, Monday 25 May 2020, Monday 31 August 2020, Friday 25 December 2020, Monday 28 December 2020, Friday 1 January 2021); the impact of the Early May Bank Holiday was analysed in our Week 20 bulletin.
  6. The Week 52 five-year average is used to compare against Week 53 deaths.
  7. The five-year average has been provided for 2015 to 2019 (rather than 2016 to 2020) because of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on deaths registered in 2020. The average for 2015 to 2019 provides a comparison of the number of deaths expected per week in a usual (non-pandemic) year.

Download the data

Analysis in this bulletin includes deaths from week 1 2020 through to week 3 2021, to ensure full coverage of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Using the most up-to-date data we have available, the number of deaths up to 22 January 2021 was 668,567. Of the deaths registered by 22 January 2021, 103,394 mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate. This is 15.5% of all deaths in England and Wales.

In England, the number of deaths up to 22 January 2021 was 626,389. Of these, 96,927 deaths (15.5%) mentioned COVID-19.

In Wales, the number of deaths up to 22 January 2021 was 41,238 . Of these, 6,330 deaths (15.3%) mentioned COVID-19.

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3. Deaths registered by age group

In Week 3 (week ending 22 January 2021), the number of deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) in England and Wales increased in most age groups compared with Week 2, including every age group over 40 to 44 years. The biggest increase was seen in those aged 90 years and over (331 more deaths). Nearly three-quarters (73.0%) of deaths involving COVID-19 were in people aged 75 years and over.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic (up to week ending 22 January 2021), 54.8% of all deaths involving COVID-19 have been in males (Figure 4). There have been more deaths in females aged 85 years and over (23,356) than males aged 85 years and over (20,071). However, these numbers do not account for the population structure where there are more women aged 85 years and over than men.

Figure 4: Nearly three-quarters of deaths involving COVID-19 have been in people aged 75 years and over

Number of deaths registered by week and age group, England and Wales, 28 December 2019 to 22 January 2021

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Notes:

  1. Figures include deaths of non-residents.
  2. Based on date a death was registered rather than occurred.
  3. All figures for 2020 and 2021 are provisional.
  4. The International Classification of Diseases, 10th edition (ICD-10) definitions are as follows: coronavirus (COVID-19) (U07.1 and U07.2).
  5. Individual weeks may not sum to the year-to-date analysis as previous weeks have been recalculated to have the most up-to-date figures.
  6. Does not include deaths where age is either missing or not yet fully coded.

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4. Deaths by region in England and Wales

Figure 5: The number of deaths in Week 3 was higher than the five-year average in all English regions and Wales

Number of deaths in Wales and regions in England, registered between 28 December 2019 and 22 January 2021

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Notes:

  1. Based on area of usual residence. Geographical boundaries are based on the most up-to-date information available at the time of publication.
  2. Figures exclude deaths of non-residents.
  3. Based on date a death was registered rather than occurred.
  4. All figures for 2020 and 2021 are provisional.
  5. The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10) definitions are as follows; coronavirus (COVID-19) (U07.1 and U07.2).
  6. The number of deaths registered in 2020 Weeks 19, 20, 22, 23, 36, 37, 52 and 53 and in Week 1 2021 were affected by the Early May, Late May, August, Christmas and New Year Bank Holidays (Friday 8 May 2020, Monday 25 May 2020, Monday 31 August 2020, Friday 25 December 2020, Monday 28 December 2020, Friday 1 January 2021); the impact of the Early May Bank Holiday was analysed in our Week 20 bulletin.
  7. The Week 52 five-year average is used to compare against Week 53 deaths.
  8. The five-year average has been provided for 2015 to 2019 (rather than 2016 to 2020) because of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on deaths registered in 2020. The average for 2015 to 2019 provides a comparison of the number of deaths expected per week in a usual (non-pandemic) year.

Download the data

In Week 3 (week ending 22 January 2021), the total number of deaths registered was higher than the five-year average in all English regions and Wales for the 11th week in a row (Figure 5). The largest increase on the five-year average was for London (103.8% higher).

Across the English regions, the South East had the largest number of deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19), with 1,734 deaths, while the English region with the highest proportion of deaths involving COVID-19 was London (57.9%).

Deaths involving COVID-19 increased in Week 3 in all English regions. The region with the largest increase was the South East of England (323 more deaths). More detailed geographic analysis can be found in our Monthly mortality analysis release.

In Week 3, there were 447 deaths involving the COVID-19 registered in Wales – a 4.3% decrease compared with Week 2 (467 deaths). This is the first recorded decrease in the weekly number of deaths involving COVID-19 in Wales since Week 49 (week ending 4 December 2020).

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5. Deaths registered by place of occurrence

Of deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) in 2020 and up to Week 3 (week ending 22 January 2021), 69.0% (71,309 deaths) occurred in hospital, with the remainder occurring in care homes (24,709 deaths), private homes (5,188 deaths), hospices (1,419 deaths), other communal establishments (402 deaths) and elsewhere (367). Between Weeks 2 and 3, the number of deaths involving COVID-19 increased in hospitals (480 more), care homes (546 more), private homes (96 more), hospices (37 more), elsewhere (2 more) and in other communal establishments (16 more). Deaths involving COVID-19 in hospitals as a proportion of all deaths in hospitals increased to 61.6% in Week 3 (from 57.5% in Week 2). Deaths involving COVID-19 in care homes accounted for nearly half of all deaths in care homes in Week 3 (46.6%), an increase from Week 2 (36.0%).

Detailed analysis on deaths of care home residents is available in Deaths involving COVID-19 in the care sector, England and Wales: deaths occurring up to 12 June 2020 and registered up to 20 June 2020.

From Week 1 2021 (week ending 8 January 2021) onwards, we have published a dataset of weekly deaths to care home residents. The term "care home resident" used in this dataset refers to all deaths where either (a) the death occurred in a care home, or (b) the death occurred elsewhere but the place of residence of the deceased was recorded as a care home. The figures should not be confused with "deaths in care homes" as reported within this article, which refers only to category (a).

As well as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) data, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) provides numbers of deaths involving COVID-19 in care homes in England that are based on the date the death was notified to the CQC. From 10 April 2020 (the first day when data were collected using the CQC's new method of identifying deaths involving COVID-19) to 29 January 2021, there were 24,919 deaths of residents in care homes involving COVID-19. Of these deaths, 1,790 were notified in the week up to 29 January 2021. More information on the data provided by the CQC can be found in our joint transparency statement.

In Wales, the Welsh Government publishes the number of deaths of care home residents involving COVID-19 notified to the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW). Between 1 March 2020 and 15 January 2021, there were 1,470 deaths of residents in care homes involving COVID-19.

More information on how these numbers have compared throughout the pandemic can be found in our previous Comparison of weekly death occurrences in England and Wales release.

Figure 6: Deaths were above the five-year average in all locations in Week 3

Number of excess deaths by place of occurrence, England and Wales, registered between 7 March 2020 and 22 January 2021

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Notes:

  1. Based on area of usual residence. Geographical boundaries and communal establishments are based on the most up-to-date information available.
  2. Figures include deaths of non-residents.
  3. Based on date a death was registered rather than occurred.
  4. All figures for 2020 and 2021 are provisional.
  5. The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10) definitions are as follows: coronavirus (COVID-19) (U07.1 and U07.2).
  6. "Other" includes deaths in communal establishments other than hospitals and care homes, in hospices, and that occurred "elsewhere". More information on the place of death definitions used is available in the accompanying dataset.
  7. The Week 52 five-year average is used to compare against Week 53 deaths.
  8. The five-year average has been provided for 2015 to 2019 (rather than 2016 to 2020) because of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on deaths registered in 2020. The average for 2015 to 2019 provides a comparison of the number of deaths expected per week in a usual (non-pandemic) year.

Download the data

In Week 3, the numbers of deaths in private homes, hospitals, care homes and other settings were above the five-year average (Figure 6). The largest proportion of excess deaths was registered in hospitals (3,136 excess deaths, 49.1% of the five-year average), followed by private homes (1,408 excess deaths, 48.6% of the five-year average).

These increases compared with the five-year average must be interpreted with caution, because of the impact of moveable public holidays on the number of deaths registered.

Looking in more detail at deaths in private homes in Week 3, males accounted for 734 excess deaths compared with 674 for females. Overall, 72.9% of the excess deaths in private homes were of those aged 70 years and over (1,027 excess deaths); this proportion has decreased from 75.4% (915 excess deaths) in Week 2.

The Deaths in private homes release provides analysis for deaths registered from 28 December 2019 to 11 September 2020. In addition, more detailed analysis of excess deaths in England is produced by Public Health England (PHE) on a weekly basis.

Figure 7 is based on date of death for deaths registered up to 30 January 2021, rather than date of registration. As more deaths are registered, deaths per day are likely to increase, especially for later dates. Looking at the number of deaths that occurred in Week 3, 71.2% of deaths occurred in hospitals, and care homes accounted for 22.4% of all deaths involving COVID-19; this may change as more deaths are registered.

A death of a man aged 80 to 84 years was registered in the week ending 4 September 2020 (Week 36) that occurred in the week ending 31 January 2020 (Week 5). This is the earliest known death involving COVID-19 in the UK. There was also a death of a man aged 55 to 59 years registered in the week ending 21 August 2020 (Week 34) that occurred in the week ending 7 February 2020 (Week 6), and a death of a woman aged 30 to 34 years that was registered by 24 October 2020 and occurred in the week ending 28 February 2020 (Week 9).

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6. Deaths registered in the UK

Across the UK, there were 20,693 deaths (all causes) registered in Week 3 (week ending 22 January 2021), which was 5,712 deaths higher than the UK five-year average and 658 more deaths than in Week 2 (week ending 15 January 2021). Of these deaths, 9,052 involved the coronavirus (COVID-19), 1,281 more deaths than in Week 2 (16.5% increase) (Figure 8).

In Week 3, England had the highest number of deaths involving COVID-19 with 7,956 deaths, followed by Scotland with 448 deaths, Wales with 447 deaths, and Northern Ireland with 182 deaths.

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7. Comparison of weekly deaths occurrence in England and Wales

We previously published this section as a separate article, which provided a more thorough description of the differences between different data sources. This section will look at the number of deaths by date of death produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) compared with death notifications reported by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). For Wales, we can also compare the reconciled DHSC data by date of death released by Public Health Wales (PHW).

On 12 August 2020, Public Health England (PHE) revised their data series to include two measures: deaths of positively tested individuals where the death occurred within 28 days and deaths within 60 days of a positive test. More information on these changes can be found in their technical summary.

In England, including deaths that occurred up to 22 January 2021 but were registered up to 30 January 2021, of those we have processed so far, the number involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) was 100,693.

The comparative number of death notifications reported by the DHSC on GOV.UK (based on data from PHE) where the deaths occurred within 28 days of testing was 85,423 and the number of deaths by date of death showed 88,478.

In Wales, including deaths that occurred up to 22 January 2021 but were registered up to 30 January 2021, of those we have processed so far, the number involving COVID-19 was 6,473. The comparative number of death notifications reported by the DHSC on GOV.UK (based on data from PHW) where the death occurred within 28 days of testing was 4,486 and the number of deaths by date of death was 4,617 deaths.

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8. Deaths data

Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional Dataset | Released 2 February 2021 Provisional counts of the number of deaths registered in England and Wales, by age, sex and region, in the latest weeks for which data are available. Includes data on coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths.

Death registrations and occurrences by local authority and health board Dataset | Released 2 February 2021 Provisional counts of the number of deaths registered in England and Wales, including deaths involving COVID-19, by local authority, health board and place of death in the latest weeks for which data are available.

Number of deaths in care homes notified to the Care Quality Commission, England Dataset | Released 2 February 2021 Provisional counts of deaths in care homes caused by COVID-19 by local authority. Published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Care home resident deaths registered in England and Wales, provisional Dataset | Released 2 February 2021 Provisional counts of the number of deaths registered of care home residents in England and Wales, by region. Includes data on coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths. Data are weekly and provisional.

Try the new way to filter and download these data:

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9. Glossary

Coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths

Coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths are those deaths registered in England and Wales in the stated week where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate. A doctor can certify the involvement of COVID-19 based on symptoms and clinical findings – a positive test result is not required. Definitions of COVID-19 for deaths in Scotland and Northern Ireland are similar to England and Wales.

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10. Measuring the data

More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in the Mortality statistics in England and Wales QMI.

To meet user needs, we publish very timely but provisional counts of death registrations in England and Wales in our Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional dataset. These are presented by sex, age group and regions (within England) as well as for Wales as a whole. To allow time for registration and processing, these figures are published 11 days after the week ends. Because of the rapidly changing situation, in this bulletin we have also given provisional updated totals for death occurrences based on the latest available death registrations, up to 23 January 2021.

Because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, our regular weekly deaths release now provides a separate breakdown of the number of deaths involving COVID-19: that is, where COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 was mentioned anywhere on the death certificate, including in combination with other health conditions. If a death certificate mentions COVID-19, it will not always be the main cause of death but may be a contributory factor. This bulletin summarises the latest weekly information and will be updated each week during the pandemic.

The data for 2020 are based on a 53-week year. Because of the number of days in a week being 7, when there are 52 weeks, we only cover 364 days of the 365 days in the year, which results in one remaining day each calendar year not included in the 52 weeks. With the occurrence of Leap Years, it is sometimes necessary to add a 53rd week to the end of the calendar, which was the case in 2020. This happens every 5 years, with the last time there was a week 53 being in 2015. Given the low frequency of week 53, it is more appropriate to compare the 2020 figures with the average for week 52, than to compare it with a single year from 5 years previous. Therefore, the 5-year average used in this bulletin for 2020 is the same as the five-year average used for week 52.

From the bulletin dated 3 November 2020, we have added two additional analyses.

Previously, we gave a breakdown of deaths involving COVID-19 into those where COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death ("due to COVID-19") and those where it was a contributory factor ("involving COVID-19") in the monthly mortality analysis; because of high public interest, this distinction is now shown in Figure 2 of the weekly bulletin.

This bulletin is based mainly on the date deaths are registered, not the date of death, because of the time taken for a death to be registered. Deaths in England and Wales are normally registered within five days, but there can be a considerably longer delay in some circumstances, particularly when the death is referred to a coroner.

We have developed a statistical model to estimate the number of deaths likely to have occurred in each week, based on previous experience of the pattern of registration delays, including the effects of bank holidays. The method is described in the article Predicting total weekly death occurrences in England and Wales: methodology and the results are shown in the tab, "Estimated total deaths 2020", of the accompanying dataset.

These figures are different from the daily surveillance figures on COVID-19 deaths published by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on the GOV.UK website, for the UK as a whole and its constituent countries. Figures in this report are derived from the formal process of death registration and may include cases where the doctor completing the death certificate diagnosed possible cases of COVID-19, for example, where this was based on relevant symptoms but no test for the virus was conducted.

From 29 April 2020, the DHSC started to publish as their daily announced figures on deaths from COVID-19 for the UK a new series that uses improved data for England produced by Public Health England (PHE). These figures provide a count of all deaths where a positive test for COVID-19 has been confirmed, wherever that death has taken place, a change from previously reporting only confirmed COVID-19 deaths in hospitals.

Figures for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had already begun to include deaths outside hospitals, so this change ensured that the UK-wide series had a shared and common definitional coverage. A statement was published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which provides more detail of the changes.

On 12 August 2020, the PHE data series was revised to include two measures: deaths of positively tested individuals where the death occurred within 28 days and deaths within 60 days of a positive test. More information on these changes can be found in their technical summary (PDF, 854KB).

In contrast to the GOV.UK figures, we include only deaths registered in England and Wales, which is the legal remit of the ONS. Tables 2 and 3 provide an overview of the differences in definitions between sources.

We will publish accompanying articles periodically, giving enhanced information such as age-standardised and age-specific mortality rates for recent time periods and breakdowns of deaths involving COVID-19 by associated pre-existing health conditions.

There is usually a delay of at least five days between occurrence and registration. More information on this issue can be found in our impact of registration delays release.

Our User guide to mortality statistics provides further information on data quality, legislation and procedures relating to mortality and includes a glossary of terms.

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11. Strengths and limitations

Figures are based on the date the death was registered, not when it occurred. There is usually a delay of at least five days between occurrence and registration. More information on this issue can be found in our impact of registration delays release.

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Manylion cyswllt ar gyfer y Bwletin ystadegol

Sarah Caul
health.data@ons.gov.uk
Ffôn: +44 (0)1329 444110