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Coronavirus: England had more deaths than Italy at peak

England suffered more coronavirus deaths than Italy during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, according to a shock new analysis. 

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine researchers looked at total excess mortality, which shows how many more people than average have died in a period.

Figures showed Italy’s outbreak peak occurred on March 27, with almost 15,000 fatalities that week – 103 per cent higher than the average for the same week in previous years.

Data also revealed England hit the peak two weeks later, which chimed with claims throughout the early outbreak that Britain was a fortnight behind Italy. It showed there were almost 20,000 deaths in the week ending April 10, a 109 per cent jump on the same week in years before. 

It comes as officials have been accused of a cover-up by ditching the global death comparison charts in the daily Downing Street briefings. Critics noticed the slide was withheld from the press conferences after it clearly showed the UK had become Europe’s hardest-hit nation.    

The Government has said now is not the time for international comparisons, and tried to paint them as unreliable as the death toll continues to rise in Britain. 

Figures showed Italy's peak occurred on March 27, with almost 15,000 fatalities that week. Analysis showed the total number of deaths was 103 per cent higher than the average for the same week in previous years. Data also revealed England hit the peak two weeks later, which chimed with claims throughout the early outbreak that Britain was a fortnight behind Italy. It showed there were almost 20,000 deaths in the week ending April 10, a 109 per cent jump on the same week in years before. Figures are the most recently available from the national statistical bodies of each nation

Figures showed Italy's peak occurred on March 27, with almost 15,000 fatalities that week. Analysis showed the total number of deaths was 103 per cent higher than the average for the same week in previous years. Data also revealed England hit the peak two weeks later, which chimed with claims throughout the early outbreak that Britain was a fortnight behind Italy. It showed there were almost 20,000 deaths in the week ending April 10, a 109 per cent jump on the same week in years before. Figures are the most recently available from the national statistical bodies of each nation

Figures showed Italy’s peak occurred on March 27, with almost 15,000 fatalities that week. Analysis showed the total number of deaths was 103 per cent higher than the average for the same week in previous years. Data also revealed England hit the peak two weeks later, which chimed with claims throughout the early outbreak that Britain was a fortnight behind Italy. It showed there were almost 20,000 deaths in the week ending April 10, a 109 per cent jump on the same week in years before. Figures are the most recently available from the national statistical bodies of each nation

Graphs show how the number of excess deaths compared across the US, with New York City having the biggest spike in extra fatalities

Graphs show how the number of excess deaths compared across the US, with New York City having the biggest spike in extra fatalities

Graphs show how the number of excess deaths compared across the US, with New York City having the biggest spike in extra fatalities

Official figures show 34,636 Brits who have tested positive for COVID-19 have now died since the first death was confirmed at the start of March.

But the true death toll is likely to be much higher because it only takes into account laboratory-confirmed cases, missing thousands of suspected patients.

And the official toll – given by the Department of Health every day – is also affected by a recording lag. Hospitals can take weeks to announce a death. 

Using this way of looking at deaths, the UK has the world’s second-highest death toll – behind only the US (90,000).

The UK’s Office for National Statistics is collecting more accurate data and suggests that, so far, the true death toll is considerably higher, probably in excess of 45,000.  

The ONS figure is much higher because it has always included people who die anywhere in the community, as well as those who were never officially tested but had COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate.

Department of Health data does not include anyone who has not tested positive. 

Many scientists say the most accurate way of looking at the true scale of the COVID-19 crisis is to take an in-depth look at ‘excess deaths’. 

Figures also show how the region of Lombardy was the hardest hit area of Italy, with an almost 300 per cent jump in excess deaths towards the end of March

Figures also show how the region of Lombardy was the hardest hit area of Italy, with an almost 300 per cent jump in excess deaths towards the end of March

Figures also show how the region of Lombardy was the hardest hit area of Italy, with an almost 300 per cent jump in excess deaths towards the end of March

WHAT ARE EXCESS DEATHS AND WHY ARE THEY THE BEST WAY TO COMPARE DEATHS? 

Excess deaths are those which occur in addition to any that would be expected to happen in the same period in an average year. 

They are measured in the UK over a five-year average.

For example, if the average number of deaths in the first week of April over the least five years was 10,000, the 10,001st person to die in that week is considered an excess death, along with any others who come after them.

Ministers have admitted ‘excess deaths’  are the most reliable measure of how many fatalities the coronavirus has actually contributed to. 

They take into account not just infected people who have died of COVID-19 but also those who died because of indirect effects of the outbreak. 

The biggest contribution to this is expected to be people whose medical treatment was interrupted or stopped because of the pandemic, including people who avoided going to hospital. NHS data shows A&E attendances have halved since March. 

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Excess deaths are those which occur in addition to any that would be expected to happen in the same period in an average year. 

They are measured in the UK over a five-year average.

For example, if the average number of deaths in the first week of April over the least five years was 10,000, the 10,001st person to die in that week is considered an excess death, along with any others who come after them.

Ministers have admitted ‘excess deaths’  are the most reliable measure of how many fatalities the coronavirus has actually contributed to. 

They take into account not just infected people who have died of COVID-19 but also those who died because of indirect effects of the outbreak. 

The biggest contribution to this is expected to be people whose medical treatment was interrupted or stopped because of the pandemic, including people who avoided going to hospital. NHS data shows A&E attendances have halved since March. 

ONS figures released last week – the most recent available – showed at least 50,000 more people than usual have died in Britain since the pandemic began.    

Sir David Spiegelhalter, a statistician at the University of Cambridge, said analysing all-cause mortality was the best way to look at scale of the crisis.

He told independent organisation FullFact: ‘I feel the only unbiased comparison you could make between different countries is by looking at all-cause mortality.

‘There are so many questions about the rise we have seen in deaths that have not got COVID-19 on the death certificate.’

He added that many of these will be ‘inevitably linked in some way to this epidemic’, saying that those figures he would ‘prefer to look at’. 

Professor Michael Coleman, an epidemiologist at LSHTM, told The Guardian: ‘Even if all the persons whose death certificate mentioned Covid-19 are counted, a quarter of the excess mortality in England and Wales is not explained.

‘This occurs because some deaths caused by coronavirus occur among people who were not tested.  

‘Other deaths occur among people with pre-existing cardiac or respiratory conditions that were made worse by coronavirus, and some deaths from unrelated conditions may occur because the health system was overwhelmed.

‘All these deaths form part of the overall public health impact of the epidemic, but they will not be revealed by restricting reports to deaths among people who were tested for Covid-19.

‘So, in a fast-moving pandemic, the cause of death on the death certificate is not a good way to assess the overall public health impact of the disease.’

Scientists say that accurately comparing countries is difficult and unreliable because each government records death and disease differently, making like-for-like comparisons impossible.

But looking at even raw numbers shows the UK is doing worse than its neighbours, experts say, and can give a broad view of what is happening globally.

Another EU monitoring project has shown England has had the worst excess death rate in Europe during the coronavirus pandemic. 

EuroMOMO assigns each country a ‘Z-score’, showing the deviation from a five-year average of excess deaths.

Many countries, including Spain, Germany, France and Italy, have recorded a spike in excess deaths during the pandemic.

But figures collected by EuroMOMO show England performing worse than Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or any other European country.

England’s Z-score peaked at 44.1 during the week that ended April 19, according to the monitoring project, with Spain in second place at 34.7.

The other three UK nations had a far lower Z-score, with Wales peaking at 19.3, Scotland at 17.3 and Northern Ireland at 8.5.

This chart shows the excess death rate of ten European nations as calculated by EU-backed monitoring project EuroMOMO, with England in a clear lead. The figures are for Week 16, which ended April 19

This chart shows the excess death rate of ten European nations as calculated by EU-backed monitoring project EuroMOMO, with England in a clear lead. The figures are for Week 16, which ended April 19

This chart shows the excess death rate of ten European nations as calculated by EU-backed monitoring project EuroMOMO, with England in a clear lead. The figures are for Week 16, which ended April 19

An EU monitoring project assigns each country a 'Z-score', showing the deviation from a five-year average of excess deaths. Many countries, including Belgium, have recorded a spike in excess deaths during the pandemic

An EU monitoring project assigns each country a 'Z-score', showing the deviation from a five-year average of excess deaths. Many countries, including Belgium, have recorded a spike in excess deaths during the pandemic

An EU monitoring project assigns each country a ‘Z-score’, showing the deviation from a five-year average of excess deaths. Many countries, including Belgium, have recorded a spike in excess deaths during the pandemic

France has also recorded a spike in excess deaths amid the coronavirus pandemic. The charts, collected by EuroMOMO, show the average Z score dating all the way back until 2015

France has also recorded a spike in excess deaths amid the coronavirus pandemic. The charts, collected by EuroMOMO, show the average Z score dating all the way back until 2015

France has also recorded a spike in excess deaths amid the coronavirus pandemic. The charts, collected by EuroMOMO, show the average Z score dating all the way back until 2015

Italy recorded a spike in excess deaths during the pandemic but Greece and Hungary have yet to experience a spate of deaths, according to EuroMOMO figures

Italy recorded a spike in excess deaths during the pandemic but Greece and Hungary have yet to experience a spate of deaths, according to EuroMOMO figures

Italy recorded a spike in excess deaths during the pandemic but Greece and Hungary have yet to experience a spate of deaths, according to EuroMOMO figures

The Netherlands has also experienced a spike in excess deaths, the charts show. In comparison, Norway, Malta and Luxembourg have avoided a wave of extra fatalities

The Netherlands has also experienced a spike in excess deaths, the charts show. In comparison, Norway, Malta and Luxembourg have avoided a wave of extra fatalities

The Netherlands has also experienced a spike in excess deaths, the charts show. In comparison, Norway, Malta and Luxembourg have avoided a wave of extra fatalities

Spain, Sweden and Switzerland have all suffered a spike in excess deaths, whereas Portugal has yet to experience a rise

Spain, Sweden and Switzerland have all suffered a spike in excess deaths, whereas Portugal has yet to experience a rise

Spain, Sweden and Switzerland have all suffered a spike in excess deaths, whereas Portugal has yet to experience a rise

England's Z-score peaked at 44.1 during the week that ended April 19, according to the monitoring project, with Spain in second place at 34.7. The other three UK nations had a far lower Z-score, with Wales peaking at 19.3, Scotland at 17.3 and Northern Ireland at 8.5

England's Z-score peaked at 44.1 during the week that ended April 19, according to the monitoring project, with Spain in second place at 34.7. The other three UK nations had a far lower Z-score, with Wales peaking at 19.3, Scotland at 17.3 and Northern Ireland at 8.5

England’s Z-score peaked at 44.1 during the week that ended April 19, according to the monitoring project, with Spain in second place at 34.7. The other three UK nations had a far lower Z-score, with Wales peaking at 19.3, Scotland at 17.3 and Northern Ireland at 8.5

The UK announced a further 170 deaths from coronavirus today on the first Sunday since draconian lockdown measures were eased

The UK announced a further 170 deaths from coronavirus today on the first Sunday since draconian lockdown measures were eased

The UK announced a further 170 deaths from coronavirus today on the first Sunday since draconian lockdown measures were eased

The global death comparison graph has been a fixture of Number 10 coronavirus press conferences but the data is no longer being published by the Government. This chart was taken from a Downing Street briefing last week

The global death comparison graph has been a fixture of Number 10 coronavirus press conferences but the data is no longer being published by the Government. This chart was taken from a Downing Street briefing last week

The global death comparison graph has been a fixture of Number 10 coronavirus press conferences but the data is no longer being published by the Government. This chart was taken from a Downing Street briefing last week

It comes after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer last week accused Boris Johnson of a cover-up after officials scrapped the international death toll comparison graph. 

The graph – comparing the UK to Italy, the US and other nations – was a fixture of the daily Number 10 press conference throughout the outbreak. 

Sir Keir claimed at Prime Minister’s Questions the data is being withheld because it shows the UK is the worst affected nation in Europe.

The Prime Minister hit back and said it was ‘premature’ to make such comparisons as he labelled coronavirus a ‘once in a century epidemic’.  

But Mr Johnson’s defence was called ‘baffling’ by Sir Keir, as he pointed out that the Government has repeatedly published the graph during the crisis.

Jenny Harries, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, then piled the pressure on Number 10 to change tack.

She told the daily Downing Street press conference last week there was ‘no reason’ why the data could not be published. 

Source: Daily Mail | Top Health News

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