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24,300 Excess Deaths Last Winter

December 22, 2016

By Paul Homewood


Figure 1_ Excess winter deaths and 5-year central moving average, England and Wales, 1950_51 to 2015_16_sup_1,2,3,4__sup_


The ONS’ mortality statistics also remind us that many more people die in winter than the rest of the year.

Last winter (actually defined as Dec-March), there were 24300 excess deaths.

This figure is calculated by comparing the number of winter deaths with the average during the rest of the year.

The ONS comment:


There were an estimated 24,300 excess winter deaths (EWDs) in England and Wales in the 2015/16 winter period. This represents an excess winter mortality index of 15%; that is 15% more deaths occurred in winter compared to the non-winter months. The number of EWDs has almost halved since the 2014/15 period and is closer to the 5-year average (years 2011/12 to 2015/16) as shown in Figure 1.

Excess winter deaths in 2015/16 were back in line with average trends. The large decrease in EWD from 2014/15 to 2015/16 can largely be explained by the higher than average number of EWDs in 2014/15 rather than unusually low EWDs in 2015/16. It can also, in part, be explained by a different predominant strain of the influenza virus that had a reduced effect on the elderly in 2015/16, with impact mainly seen in young adults (Public Health England, 2016).

Large fluctuation in EWDs is common and trends over time are not smooth. To provide a clear trend over time and to smooth out short-term fluctuations in EWDs a 5-year moving average is calculated and shown in Figure 1. There has been a steady decrease in EWDs since the 1950/51 winter period that has leveled off in recent years. Moreover, it appears that the higher than usual EWDs in 2014/15 were not the start of an upward trend in EWDs but instead a fluctuation in the time series.


The number of deaths in the winter of 2014/15 was unusually high because the predominant influenza virus that year particularly affected the elderly. I also understand that it had not been anticipated when vaccination stocks were being built up.


The monthly breakdown shows that daily deaths are always lowest between June and September.




  1. December 22, 2016 3:07 pm

    You have to be a tad careful on these. There is a relationship between winter temps and excess winter deaths, but it’s a weak one. The asymptotic decline in excess deaths is due to various social and medical improvements unrelated to temperature. The deaths are often only indirectly linked to temperature (e.g. via flu and complications). Hypothermia might be a by-product of expensive heating.

    • December 22, 2016 3:17 pm

      I’ve often thought that damp plays a big part, rather than cold as such.

      • December 22, 2016 4:37 pm

        I have theorized that with colder weather folks exude more bodily fluids (runny nose, sneezing, coughing) in lower temperatures (as a respiratory reaction to the colder, drier air) and spread those fluids on common surfaces: doorknobs, counter tops, credit card signing styluses, etc. Then the world’s most prolific disease-spreading mechanism (the human hand) delivers the pathogen to its next host.

        A corollary of that is our autumn-winter-spring school cycle. We put our hygiene-undisciplined progeny together in close quarters, and they efficiently serve as Petri dishes for the pathogens bringing them into the home.

        Here’s the link to the Lancet 2015 study demonstrating that moderate cold brings the highest mortality risks:

        Click to access PIIS0140-6736(14)62114-0.pdf

  2. December 22, 2016 4:38 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  3. David Richardson permalink
    December 22, 2016 4:49 pm

    Yes Jit – caution with all causation both hot and cold is sensible, after all it is science we are looking at – if only some alarmists could do the same it would be great.

    BUT I don’t think anyone can argue with the premise that future cooling would kill more than future warming, especially away from the cosy parts of the first world. Unfortunately the MSM doesn’t report cold deaths, it doesn’t fit their world-view.

    One simple example – try researching deaths in the Andes this last three or four winters, but don’t bother to waste your time with the newpaper archives. If people die of the heat it is big news, if they die of the cold……………………………

    It is only ever too warm for some people, so you see lots of current articles about parts of the Arctic or the UK – but not so much about century long cold/snow records in Canada and the Northern USA, also parts of Russia and Siberia as well China and SE Asia. Recent days has seen snow in the Sahara for the first time in half-a-century – I bet that has been all over the Graun.

    None of the hundreds of cold/snowy events of the last few winters (SH and NH) disprove AGW, so why don’t they get reported much. Answer on the usual postcard please….

  4. dearieme permalink
    December 22, 2016 7:01 pm

    “Last winter (actually defined as Dec-March)”: that’s odd, I thought the usual convention is to use Dec-Feb.

    • December 22, 2016 10:30 pm

      Deaths tend to lag the weather, so the Dec to March period usually has the highest death rates.

  5. David Richardson permalink
    December 22, 2016 7:39 pm

    Meant to wish you a Great Christmas for you and yours Paul as well as the Best of Wishes for 2017 and well beyond.

    Thank you for all your hard work this year bringing some balance and common sense to the bias in climate science and its political masters.

    “The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge.”

    – Daniel J. Boorstin

    “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”

    – Confucius

  6. Jack Broughton permalink
    December 22, 2016 9:21 pm

    A muslim friend once told me that he believed that Mohamed brought in Ramadan as a method of culling the oldies (hot weather without fluids is a very effective form of euthanasia).

    The western governments look to be planning to use energy prices to achieve the same ends in winter; but I suspect it is stupidity rather than eugenics that drives them forward.

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