Socialist Worker

Rulers hide true scale of coronavirus deaths, major studies show

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2702

The government isnt telling the full story about the scale of coronavirus deaths

The government isn't telling the full story about the scale of coronavirus deaths (Pic: Number 10/Flickr)


Several major studies suggest there is massive under-reporting globally of the scale of coronavirus deaths—and that Britain is one of the world leaders in the cover-up.

A Financial Times analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said coronavirus has already caused as many as 41,000 deaths in Britain. The estimate was more than double the official figure of 17,337 at the time the analysis was released.

It is based on looking at “excess deaths”—the increase in the number of deaths compared to the historical average for the same time of year.

The Tories don’t include the people who die outside hospitals—such as in care homes—in the figures they announce each day.

In addition some of those who die with Covid-19 do not have it mentioned on their death certificate. This further suppresses the figures.

But it’s difficult for the government to hide the total number of deaths from all causes.

The ONS data showed that deaths registered in the single week ending 10 April were 75 percent above normal in England and Wales. That’s the highest level for more than 20 years.

There were 18,516 deaths registered during that period compared with the most recent five-year average of 10,520 for the same week of the year. There were similar patterns in Scotland.

Nick Stripe, head of life events at the ONS, said the figure was “unprecedented”, especially as the weather had been warm in the run-up to Easter.

Excess deaths from all causes stand 16,952 above the seasonal average across Britain since fatalities from Covid-19 began to mount in mid-March.

Of course some of these are not necessarily directly due to coronavirus.

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But even the ones that aren’t may be because an underprepared and under-resourced NHS concentrated its resources on coronavirus and away from other areas.

Whatever the difficulties with the data, coronavirus is the only convincing reason why death rates that were running at or below the historical average have suddenly shot up.

The ONS figures are not fully up to date. So the Financial Times extended them using the latest trends in the daily hospital deaths assuming the relationship between these and total excess deaths remained stable.

Using this calculation, the paper said, “A conservative estimate of UK excess deaths by 21 April was 41,102”.

The point is rammed home by a big international study of 13 countries produced by The Economist magazine.

It too is based on “excess deaths”, and shows every government is hiding the truth.

It found, for example that Italy and the Netherlands show an excess of deaths that is more than twice the official Covid-19 tally.

The Economist adds, “The discrepancy will surely be greater in poorer countries, which have less capacity for testing and treating patients.

“For example, data about burials in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, suggest that the official Covid-19 figures in March might have captured only 5 percent of the true toll.”

The Economist analysis, which covers a different time period to the Financial Times one, says a third of Covid-19 deaths in Britain are being missed.

In addition the EuroMOMO group of academics from 24 European countries found that England and Wales has “extremely high excess” deaths.

It added that England and Wales’s “z-score” shows the biggest excess of all the countries it studies. A z-score is a statistical method enabling comparison of mortality patterns between different populations or between different time periods.

The figures the Tories announce are appalling. The reality is far worse.


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