This page contains data and analysis published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) from 3 to 7 August 2020. Go to our live page for the most up-to-date insights on COVID-19.

7 August 2020

Impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on mortality and morbidity in England

Today, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) released a paper estimating the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on England’s mortality and morbidity. This was a collaboration between the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the Government Actuary’s Department (GAD) and the Home Office and was discussed by SAGE on 23 July 2020.

The paper presents a collection of estimates of the COVID-19 virus’ direct and indirect effects on the health of the population, including estimates of the quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) lost, through deaths and also for those who do not die but may experience health impacts.

The research estimates that approximately 65,000 excess deaths could take place from contracting COVID-19 between March 2020 and March 2021. It is also estimated that social distancing measures could reduce mortality in England, accounting for 7,000 fewer deaths than expected. However, the negative health impacts of social distancing amount to a loss of 88,000 QALYs up to March 2021, so mortality improves over this period, but health worsens.

Socio-economic effects are estimated to have the greatest impact on quality of life of all categories investigated, over the short- and long-term combined. From March 2020 to more than five years from now, the impacts of lockdown and a resulting recession are estimated to reduce England’s health by over 970,000 QALYs. The health impacts of contracting COVID-19 are still unclear in the long -term, but between March 2020 and March 2021, these represent 570,000 lost QALYs.

While these negative health impacts of lockdown exceed the impacts of COVID-19 directly, they are much smaller than the negative impacts estimated for a scenario in which these measures are not in place. Without these mitigations, the impact of direct COVID-19 deaths alone on both mortality and morbidity would be much higher: an estimated 439,000 excess deaths due to COVID-19, and 3,000,000 QALYs lost.

We have published a fuller statement with more detail on the contents of the paper today on our website. The whole paper can be found in SAGE’s Meeting 48, 23 July meeting papers.

6 August 2020

Business impact of coronavirus survey: qualitative responses

Analysis of free text responses to the Business Impact of Coronavirus Survey (BICS) shows the frequency of respondents dealing with the closure of their own or a supplying business has reduced over time, with differences between industries.

The new analysis summarises the most commonly cited words in businesses’ responses and establishes how these have changed in frequency over time.

When asked to add any extra information about how business turnover had been affected by the pandemic, the most common word used was “closed”, reflecting the impacts of respondent businesses, their suppliers, or businesses they supply closing.

By Wave 9, the frequency in which the word “closed” appeared was significantly lower than Wave 2.

At an industry level, the accommodation and food service activities sector reported the highest percentage of the word “closed” in Wave 2 in respect to all those that answered the question in this industry, at 68%, compared with 23% in Wave 9. In Wave 9, the sector with the highest frequency of comments including the word “closed” in some way was the arts, entertainment and recreation sector, at 38%.

The percentage of businesses reporting comments on closures in earlier waves will reflect the impact of the UK lockdown imposed on the 23 March 2020, and the introduction of easing of lockdown restrictions from 23 June 2020 will likely explain the reduction in frequency of the word “closed” in later waves.

6 August 2020

Business births and deaths to June 2020

Business closures do not yet appear to have increased as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to the latest Experimental Statistics about business creation and closures. This is probably because of the time it takes for a business to close, delays in the reporting process, and government support for businesses.

The number of businesses removed from the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) (business closures) in the UK in Quarter 2 (Apr to Jun) 2020 was slightly lower than the average number of businesses removed in the past three years. Although it might be expected that more businesses would close as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, there are notable lags in the removal of a business from the IDBR, because of economic, legal and statistical processes. As such, increased business closures from the coronavirus pandemic may not yet be visible in these statistics, and may be reflected in data in subsequent quarters.

Additionally, government support to businesses and easements at Companies House (such as an extended period to file their accounts) may have prevented or postponed some business closures.

The number of business creations in the UK in Quarter 2 2020 was also slightly lower than in Quarter 2 2019. This is broadly in line with expectations for a fall in business creation resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, although the decline is not that pronounced.

Business creations also slowed during the economic downturn of 2008 to 2009, and may reflect increased uncertainty, a lack of good market opportunities, or other factors that make starting a business unattractive at present.

5 August 2020

Shielding behaviours changing with updated guidance

The guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) people has changed in recent weeks. This is reflected in the responses to our Shielding Behavioural Survey.

Our latest survey was carried out between 9 and 16 July. It shows more CEV people are leaving their home and receiving visitors at their home.

Almost half (48%) of CEV people report not leaving their home at all or only leaving for exercise. This is lower than the 60% of people who said the same in the previous survey between 24 and 30 June.

The percentage of CEV people receiving no visitors at their home (other than for support for personal care) has decreased in each of the past three surveys. Between 28 May and 3 June, 87% of CEV people told us they had not received visitors at their home. This fell to 83% in the next survey (9 to 18 June), then 77% in the following one (24 to 30 June).

On 6 July, guidance for CEV people shielding changed to include forming a support bubble with another household. In our latest survey, 65% of CEV people reported receiving no visitors to their home (other than support for personal care).

Fifteen percent of CEV people live with someone under the age of 16 years. A fifth of those said living with children is impacting their ability to shield.

CEV shielding workers

Over a quarter (28%) of CEV people who were advised to shield were in employment before lockdown. Of that 28% of CEV people:

  • 11% continued to work outside their home
  • 37% now work from home
  • the remaining 52% were either furloughed, joined the self-employed income support scheme or stopped working

An estimated 38,000 (6%) CEV people who worked before lockdown said they would not return to work in the next four months. A fifth (21%) of CEV workers said they would continue to work from home for the next four months. That’s down from the 37% who said they are working at home now.

Almost one in four (23%) CEV workers said they didn’t know what their plans were for the coming four months. There is some variation in how comfortable CEV people are with returning to work outside their homes.

More than two thirds (68%) of CEV workers said they were comfortable (44%) or completely comfortable (24%) with returning to work outside their home. However, their comfort level was dependent on protective measures being in place.

In comparison, 32% of CEV workers said they are not comfortable with returning to work outside their home.