“There is no sign of a second wave up to October 9th. In week 41, the number of deaths registered was 1.5% above the five-year average.
“We consider the current data normal variation, and only consider it an excess when it gets to two standard deviations, which is about 1,200 excess deaths compared to the five-year average.”
Sarah Knapton, the Telegraph‘s Science Editor, has more.
Although Covid deaths rose to 438 for the week ending October 9th – an increase of 36% from the previous week, when the figure stood at 321 – overall deaths rose just 143 above the five-year average. There were also 19 fewer overall deaths than in the same week last year.
Experts at Oxford University said the number would have to get to 1,200 deaths above the norm before it would usually be considered “excess” above the expected variation in the data.
Researchers also found there would usually be around 1,600 weekly deaths from flu and pneumonia for the same week. Deaths from coronavirus, flu and pneumonia are currently running at 1,621, suggesting there is virtually no increase in expected respiratory deaths.
The ONS figures also do not factor in the UK’s growing and ageing population, which would be expected to increase the number of deaths over time and which are likely to cancel out at least some of the increase.
For example, between 2010 and 2019 the number of deaths for the week ending October 9th rose from 9,281 to 9,973 – about 70 extra deaths a year.
Dr Jason Oke, Carl Heneghan’s colleague at the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, thinks that’s what’s happening is that older people who would normally be dying of flu and pneumonia at this time of year are dying of Covid instead.
“Total deaths are tracking at the top but not over,” said Dr Oke. “Is it because we have nearly an identical deficit of flu and pneumonia deaths for this time of year?
“COVID-19 plus influenza/pneumonia deaths are at 1,621 this week, while five-year average flu and pneumonia for this week is 1,600.”
Worth reading in full.