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An exercise in understanding the Coronavirus Death Figures Part IV

This is my fourth analysis of the mortality rates for the last 10 years, where I have been looking to see if there is a significant increase in the rate of death, due to the Covid 19 pandemic

I  have used the figures from the Office of National Statistic website and downloaded their England and Wales Death figures from 2010 to 2020.

Office of Nation Statistics Total Number of Deaths for all Ages 2010 - 2020

As you can see after the spike back in April 2020, the total mortality rate this year has not really been as significant as one would expect for a pandemic, that has lockdown the UK

The death figures continue to climb in the following weeks:

Week No  
Week Commencing  
No Deaths
 13 23/03/20 11,141
 14 30/03/20 16,387
 15 06/04/20 18,116
 16 13/04/20 22,357
 17 20/04/20 21,997
 18 27/04/20 17,953

Apart from the spike in week 20, w/c/ 11/05/2020, with a figure of 14,573, w.r.t. the Number of deaths has been declining ever since, and have not been significantly higher when compared to previous years no. of death figures.

Now here's an interesting observation, from week 25, w/c 15/06/2020, the no. of deaths in 2020, was less than the previous 3/4 years, but the government deemed it necessary to make mask wearing mandatory on public transport on this day.

By the time the government made it mandatory to mask wearing in shops, on the 24th July 2020, week 30, w/c 20/07/2020 the No. deaths was 8,891, which was the 2nd lowest recorded number of deaths in the last 4 years!

Now for those who read my previous blog, this is not the end of the story for me, because I also want to look at the number of deaths due to respiratory, because according to the media, Coronavirus (Covid-19) is a virus that attacks the respiratory system.

Now without giving too much away, what would you expect the chart show for the year 2020?

If you follow the media logic, there should be an significant increase in deaths where the underlying cause was respiratory disease, which has the classification  (ICD-10 J00-J99), not only at the beginning of the year, when nobody was aware that there was a virus attacking the respiratory system, but more importantly, I am expecting the no deaths due to respiratory to follow the trend of the chart above.

That's to say the no. of deaths to increase from Week 13 and peak at week 16, w/c 3/04/2020, before tailing off.

Well lets see what the data shows.........

Office of National Statistics Total Deaths where underlying cause was respiratory disease

Well, well, well!!!!!

That was a little bit disappointing, as this data did not reveal what I was expecting, not only is there no peak, but the no. of deaths is lower than previous years, as you go through the year the no deaths due to respiratory is the lowest over the last 10 years, from week 23 the 1st June 2020 to week 43 the 23rd October 2020.

Granted at this point the No. of deaths attributed to Covid-19 has got a separate classification, but here's the rub.

In the ONS dataset it has the following caveat:

Note: Deaths could possibly be counted in both causes presented. If a death had an underlying respiratory cause and a mention of COVID-19 then it would appear in both counts.

My question still to you is, if a person can only die once how can it be counted as 2 deaths?

Surely you record the primary cause of death, as the actual cause of death?

Is it just me that thinks there is a world of difference between dying of Covid-19 and dying of a respiratory disease, but being found positive for Covid-19, after being tested up to 28 days prior to death, or am I just splitting hairs?

What are your thoughts on this?

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