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Coronavirus Update

June 30, 2020

By Paul Homewood

 

There seemed to be plenty of interest last time I did an analysis on COVID-19, and now seems an opportune time to update things, with the latest ONS data to June 19th.

All data is from ONS here. and refer to England & Wales only.

 

First, the number of actual weekly deaths this year, compared to the 5-Year average:

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Actual deaths began to increase above the average in Week 13, ie last week in March. Excess deaths peaked in Week 16 at 11854, and in Week 25 actually went negative.

 

During April, total excess deaths were running well above deaths recorded as “Deaths where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate”.

However, since the start of May this situation has reversed, with 2943 more deaths recorded as COVID than excess deaths have been.

The greater number of excess deaths at the start led to claims that COVID deaths were being under recorded. However, there was plenty of evidence that patients with critical, and often terminal, conditions were dying prematurely as a result of COVID infection, but not because of it.

For instance, someone with lung cancer who only had a few months to live, may have died after contracting COVID, just as he may have done with flu or a bad cold. The cause, as far as the death certificate is concerned, would be cancer. It is unlikely such patients would be tested, so COVID was not recorded.

What we seem to be seeing now is that there is some catching up going on, and current deaths are lower than would normally be the case because those terminal patients died a few weeks ago, instead of now.

Since COVID deaths were shown separately, the total of excess deaths still exceeds COVID deaths by 10263. At the current rate, this differential will be eliminated by the end of the year.

 

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Finally a comparison of weekly deaths where the underlying cause was respiratory disease and the number where COVID was mentioned on the death certificate – remember that a death can be included in both categories.

image

To date, the COVID total exceeds the respiratory figure by 30975. In the final Week 25, respiratory deaths were higher than COVID for the first time since March.

Of course many of the respiratory deaths are not connected to COVID anyway. Last year, for instance, during this same period between Weeks 12 and 25, there were 18438 deaths due to respiratory illness. The equivalent figure for this year is 18026.

This is a hugely significant number. It is generally accepted that the main way in which COVID causes death, directly at least, is through pneumonia. Yet the figures tell us that these deaths are no higher this year than last. And as we can see from the graph, deaths from respiratory disease this year have not peaked, but instead gradually fallen since early March.

So where does all of this leave us?

My take on this is that most of the excess deaths have been premature deaths, maybe only brought forward by a few weeks or months at the most. People with lung cancer, emphysema and so on.

Equally with the very old. Deaths of over 85s this year is running at 30,000 above last year. This alone counts for more than half of all excess deaths this year. How many of these actually had COVID? We don’t know, but we do know that a dose of flu or a bad cold is enough to kill the old and very frail.

But other factors are also at play with the elderly. How many have died, because visits from family have been stopped? Certainly anybody in a care home with dementia will have been badly affected. There is also the fact that any elderly who fell sick would have probably been kept away from hospital, and may well have died as a result.

As with terminal illnesses, and without wanting to sound cruel, many of the elderly in care homes would have died at some stage this year. As a result, we may well find that the excess death figure is much less than now by the end of the year.

47 Comments
  1. Tonyb permalink
    June 30, 2020 5:58 pm

    Paul

    You say that 30000 more over 85’s died this year compared to last

    There are some 1.6 million over 85’s in the uk that is double the amount of 15 years ago

    Click to access later_life_uk_factsheet.pdf

    Two lessons, the first is that the pandemic could not have happened to the same extent in 2000 as there were far fewer very elderly people. Second lesson is that the age group increased by 100,000 last year so deaths at 30000 More than last year is lower than might have been expected as the potential was for more than this. Presumably the additional 70000 will die in the next year or so of something else.

    All of which raises the question, in the totality of deaths in 2020 will covid figure as a major cause?

  2. Tonyb permalink
    June 30, 2020 5:59 pm

    Paul

    My response seems to have been truncated. I added in a link

    Click to access later_life_uk_factsheet.pdf

    • tom0mason permalink
      June 30, 2020 6:58 pm

      Testing …
      https://www.ageuk.org.uk/

      • tom0mason permalink
        June 30, 2020 7:05 pm

        Copy all these lines below, copy to notpad, join all the parts together (remove the new lines) to get the complete .pdf webpage.

        https://www.ageuk.org.uk/
        globalassets/age-uk/
        documents/reports-and-publications/
        later_life_uk_factsheet.pdf

        Copy this completed web address to a new browser page(or tab).
        Hopefully this works.

      • tonyb permalink
        June 30, 2020 8:07 pm

        Tom

        Thanks

        On my elderly i-pad there was just a gap and no sign of a link. Looking on my large computer it seems to be there. The numbers are very interesting. The number of very elderly is increasing vey fast so presumably this will sow the seeds for large numbers of deaths if the virus gets into that community via care homes etc

  3. Tonyb permalink
    June 30, 2020 6:00 pm

    It obviously doesn’t like the link!

  4. Steve permalink
    June 30, 2020 6:00 pm

    I was looking at these numbers earlier today as well. We are now right back to normal for average deaths and they seem to still be falling. On top of that the number of ‘infections’ are also falling away even though we know many are false positives. Yet here we are with a country still in partial lockdown.

    So many people are literally in a trance state being fed propaganda day and night and not knowing up from down and unable to do simple research to find out for themselves.

    Tragic.

    • Matt Dalby permalink
      July 1, 2020 10:01 pm

      I wonder how long the number of excess deaths will keep falling for. It’s only a matter of time before deaths due to people not receiving treatment for/an early diagnosis for things like cancer or heart conditions, because hospitals were thought to be just for Covid patients or people were too scared to visit hospital, start to show up in the statistics.

  5. Broadlands permalink
    June 30, 2020 6:10 pm

    How many of the total Covid-19 cases, irrespective of their impact, were actually tested and might either be false positives or false negatives? How would we know, especially if the patient never got symptoms or even got sick, recovered without harm?

  6. Bertie permalink
    June 30, 2020 6:16 pm

    The reaction to this virus is having the most tragic consequences – the lockdown is worse than the disease. The gathering of statistics is so poor that any percentage figures they produce are skewed by the simple fact that they have no idea how many people have caught and/or suffered from it.
    There are those among us, such as myself and 20 odd personal friends all over the south of England who have suffered from the exact symptoms and are, therefore confident that they have survived it, and we are all well over 65 years old. Their numbers will not be reflected – so the percentage death rate and so-called R-rate are completely skewed.
    You are quite right, Paul, to mention that a large number of the elderly would have died anyway.( I don’t think the general public realise how many people die per day from all sorts of causes).
    This is ‘elf & safety’ gone mad. I have lived through at least 5 pandemics over the years. Never before have such drastic and ultimately sel-defeating measures been taken in order to mitigate the effect of the disease.
    Just like the climate nonsense this has been driven not by ‘ the science’ but by ridiculous, and easily disproven, computer models. But don’t blame the computers – it’s the charlatans who propose them.

    • Tonyb permalink
      June 30, 2020 6:42 pm

      Some 640,000 people die each year in the UK of which some 140,000 are said to be preventable, including some cancers, diabetes, obesity .

      Which rases the question should we not be trying harder to prevent the 140,000 preventable deaths which occur year after year?

      • dadgervais permalink
        June 30, 2020 7:07 pm

        Actually, no death can be prevented (as far as we know); death can only be postponed. Each life ends in one death eventually.

    • July 1, 2020 1:58 am

      Bertie – Thank you this is exactly the situation in Australia. Sadly the Australian ruling classes are of the “Bed wetter” persuasion and you could have a reign of terror here with a balloon on a stick. I wish we could shame these sissies by telling them to “Man up” but somehow they see this as an insult? Ah nations taken over by transwomen, cocks in frocks and panty wasters, what a come down!

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      July 1, 2020 7:26 pm

      I think the major problem we’re facing is that we don’t even know what we don’t know.

      We do know that H2N3 killed 80,000 in the UK (= ~100,000 on today’s population) while to date CV-19 hasn’t killed half that number (again, population adjusted). And would probably have killed fewer if the government hadn’t panicked and over-prioritised the NHS at the cost of rampant infection in care homes.

      (One thing I do hope comes of this is a proper end to the long running tennis match between the NHS and the local authorities with the frail elderly as the balls! It will cost money and it may be that May’s idea of those with assets over £100k contributing something to their care will need to be re-visited. But that’s an argument for another day.)

      What we don’t know and in practical terms have no way of knowing is how many people were infected because we don’t know when the index case was. We know a Frenchman tested positive on December 27 but only because a couple of months later they re-examined the stored sample.Today’s news is that it may have been around last September.

      And then we have to add in your friends and mine (and me and ‘er indoors) who may have had it or something like it in January but nobody “official” knows about just as nobody “official” knows about the mild bout of ‘flu we had two years ago.

      Perhaps Boris deserves more sympathy than we’re giving him. I mean …. where do you start in a situation like this?!

  7. MrGrimNasty permalink
    June 30, 2020 7:22 pm

    Another moronic response in Leicester – the very people that we need to get CV19 to build up herd immunity SAFELY – kids and young adults, who are mainly behind the increase in cases there, are to be prevented from getting it with another futile lockdown.

    Remember, the lockdown policy was never about stopping the virus or preventing infections, it was to save an imagined avoidable number of extra deaths from overloaded ICUs – flatten but lengthen the curve, not reduce the number of people under the curve overall or snuff out the virus completely (clearly impossible by then).

    The ‘second peak’ nonsense is again irrelevant, we want people to get infected, just not overwhelm the ICUs, and it is now clear that that won’t happen. If HIT is not reached it will just drag on and on at about the level of infection we have now and we will never get back to normal.

    Does Boris really think we didn’t notice he shifted the goal rather than admit the lockdown was an unnecessary and egregious mistake?

    The virus has also taken out the ‘survivors’ of the unusually light flu season, as well as infirm a few days/weeks/months early. Over 12-24 months the excess deaths from the virus will probably not even be noticeable.

    Just a reminder what the 1950/51 flu ‘curve’ looked like with no formal lockdown. This virus would have abated exactly the same. And this was only in ‘Great Towns’, about half of a much smaller total national population back then.

    Will they try and pull off the same economic destruction again if they didn’t quite succeed with the ‘green’ shift this time – you bet they will. Remember the girlfriend of the ‘ace’ modeler belongs to Avaaz – involved in organising the climate march/strikes.

    http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2019/10/06/the-global-climate-strikes-no-this-was-not-co-optation-this-was-and-is-pr-a-brief-timeline/

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      July 1, 2020 1:11 am

      According to the PHE data since the first cases in mid March there have been a total of 1,059 cases in Leicester, and while they seem recently to have plateaued rather than continuing to decline, they have been running at about 5 a day, way below the peak in early April which was about 5 times as many.

      Chart of publicly available PHE data:

      https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/K3Wry/1/

      Is there something they’re not telling us?

      • Dave Ward permalink
        July 1, 2020 10:57 am

        “Is there something they’re not telling us?”

        Of course, that’s been evident right from the start…

  8. MrGrimNasty permalink
    June 30, 2020 7:24 pm

    A perfect example of why the MO/BBC etc. want fake temperature records, it adds weight to this sort of rubbish.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-53231875

  9. MrGrimNasty permalink
    June 30, 2020 7:28 pm

    More lagoon antics from the lunatics.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-53224180

    • Harry Davidson permalink
      June 30, 2020 8:47 pm

      They’ve obviously never seen the Bristol Channel in a Beaufort 10. It is in fact a very pretty sight, from a safe distance.

  10. Up2snuff permalink
    June 30, 2020 8:35 pm

    Paul’s findings “What we seem to be seeing now is that there is some catching up going on, and current deaths are lower than would normally be the case because those terminal patients died a few weeks ago, instead of now.” and “My take on this is that most of the excess deaths have been premature deaths, maybe only brought forward by a few weeks or months at the most. People with lung cancer, emphysema and so on.” would tie in with the BAME findings of Public Health England which have been distorted by some in the media, notably the BBC. The PHE Report was at pains to point out that co-morbidities (ie. other life threatening conditions) had not (possibly could not have) been taken into account.

  11. tom0mason permalink
    June 30, 2020 9:31 pm

    Yet another (IMO) useful site for a good perspective about this Wuhu virus …
    https://informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/covid-19-coronavirus-infographic-datapack/

    It converts a lot of information into useful and easily read graphics.

  12. MrGrimNasty permalink
    June 30, 2020 10:07 pm

    Excuse my repost here but more relevant – the next pandemic scare in the pipeline?

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-53218704

    • Stonyground permalink
      July 1, 2020 10:03 am

      The BBC is hardly a reliable source of information is it? If the BBC are reporting it I would say that there was an excellent chance of it not being true.

  13. Pat Swords permalink
    June 30, 2020 10:25 pm

    More of the ‘science’ now has to fit the politics already decided – we create a vacuum by not doing proper analysis and then fill it with vague opinions. The Irish approach is to actually do something somewhat professional, then ignore it on the basis that the ‘sheep’ won’t find / read / understand it. See page 10 of the good analysis below on “Evidence summary for asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19” 21 April 2020:

    Click to access Evidence-summary-for-asymptomatic-transmission-of-COVID-19.pdf

    It’s actually a very good analysis document, from a risk perspective you really have to be in close confines for an extended period with somebody, who is asymptomatic, before any risk arises.

  14. Thomas Carr permalink
    June 30, 2020 11:04 pm

    Are we supposed to make anything of the assertion that the NHS cleared the decks to make room for serious cases by sending elderly long term patients away from hospitals to care homes without testing them. The result was to infect the permanent residents of the care homes with the mortal consequences we now understand.
    Seems unlikely as most care homes I have visited over the years were fully occupied. Strange bit of political mischief or something more thoughtless?

    • July 1, 2020 9:27 am

      The assertion is quite true, it started on 17th March and continued for a month before the policy was reviewed.

      http://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/jun/07/more-than-half-of-englands-coronavirus-related-deaths-will-be-people-from-care-homes?

      “Figures released by NHS England show 25,060 patients were moved from hospitals to care homes between 17 March and mid-April, when guidance was formally changed to ensure testing took place.

      William Laing, the author of the new analysis on excess deaths among care home residents, said their treatment was “a scandal which is just emerging”. He said he believed a series of failings were behind the high number of excess deaths.”

      There was an official NHS directive to hospitals to “get them out pronto”.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      July 1, 2020 9:56 am

      The sending out of 15000 NHS patients to care homes is documented and should have been the subject of much public questioning if we had a functioning media.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      July 1, 2020 11:31 am

      Many residents of care homes are in hospital at any given time. Many of those discharged to care homes were residents already, some were found new places.

  15. Mack permalink
    July 1, 2020 12:29 am

    Paul, I don’t have the figures to hand, but I do believe that the current ‘Covid Spring’ death rates aren’t out of sync with either the cold/flu deaths of the cold winter of 2010 or, indeed, the Honk Kong flu epidemic of 1968/69 which claimed 80,000 + lives in the UK.. I may be wrong but, in neither case, did the government decide to shut down the whole economy as a solution? No! We just got on with it.

  16. grammarschoolman permalink
    July 1, 2020 7:44 am

    Still not worth trashing the entire economy for.

  17. Phoenix44 permalink
    July 1, 2020 8:09 am

    Good stuff but you need to be careful with the term “excess deaths”. Usually it is used to compare a whole winter period, not the weekly “excess” people have been using during Covid. A weekly figure based on a five year average is actually pretty meaningless – for 2020, we were running below average for most of the first 10 weeks for example.

    We know Covid deaths are oveecounted – deaths in hospices of terminal patients are the most obvious. How many? We will probably never know.

  18. Ryddegutt permalink
    July 1, 2020 9:09 am

    Have you seen this new study? Combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin outperform remdesivir by a long way. No media seems to be interested.

    “Outcomes of 3,737 COVID-19 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine/azithromycin and other regimens in Marseille, France: A retrospective analysis

    (…)

    Conclusion

    Although this is a retrospective analysis, results suggest that early diagnosis, early isolation and early treatment of COVID-19 patients, with at least 3 days of HCQ-AZ lead to a significantly better clinical outcome and a faster viral load reduction than other treatments”

    (…)
    In addition, we performed a recent meta-analysis of 20 available reports, including 105,040 patients demonstrating that, in clinical studies, chloroquine and its derivatives improve clinical and biological outcomes and reduce mortality by a factor 3 in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients [10]. In addition, we recently reported a very low mortality rate in a retrospective analysis of more than 1,000 patients early treated with a combination of HCQ-AZ, with a very low mild adverse event rate (2.3%) [8]. Conversely, in a recent observational study, patients treated with HCQ showed no difference regarding risk of death or intubation compared with patients under other treatments [17].”

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1477893920302817

    • Steve (original - could the Steve above add his initial) permalink
      July 1, 2020 10:48 am

      This is a very significant study because it compares outcomes over the period of the epidemic to early June between parts of France which did not use HCQ and an antibiotic and Marseille, which did and also the other areas, like the UK, ordered people who were showing symptoms to stay at home and wait to see if they needed hospital treatment. This was to reduce the overload on hospitals and protect the NHS, as we were repeatedly told. In Marseille they tested and treated early.

      In Paris the death rate was about 10% compared to zero in Marseille, although they had a few late deaths after the study.
      They had a high number, 88%, of patients under 60, who would have usually recovered anyway but older patients also recovered.

      In the UK the NHS decided to test HCQ but not in the same way and included older patients in the later serious stage, who the Chinese had already shown were not helped by this treatment. This trial is a proper double blind but will no be complete until Christmas, by which time the excess deaths will be largely over. The excess deaths, which coincide with the epidemic and have now normalised are thought to be 64,000. The deaths by flu were low this year because the NHS managed, unusually, to order the right vaccine and give it to most elderly and vulnerable. The untested deaths may have been mainly patients with other conditions but it was Covid that shortened their lives, sometimes by years. If the NHS had allowed HCQ to be used early , instead of banning it, then the three times more could have been saved. The UK has by far the worst death rate for under 64s in Europe and many have also been affected badly if not died.
      The UK trial is designed to fail and prove Trump wrong. They will cover their tracks.

      • Steve permalink
        July 1, 2020 10:51 am

        We are talking about 42,000 unnecessary deaths.

    • Steve permalink
      July 1, 2020 10:58 am

      Paul. Another Steve has posted and in order to distinguish between us I added a not to my name and it has been sent to moderation. I will keep posting as Steve. Perhaps the other one could add his initial?

  19. Bertie permalink
    July 1, 2020 11:37 am

    If you don’t already know there is a wonderful website (run by Toby Young) called “Lockdown Sceptics” which does a very similar job on debunking all the Covid myths as Paul does the climate ones on here. Highly recommended,
    https://lockdownsceptics.org/

  20. July 1, 2020 12:08 pm

    Recently, Joe Biden claimed that 125 million had died in the United States. At that rate, we will soon run out of population……

  21. John Warren permalink
    July 1, 2020 12:10 pm

    In 2019 some 20,000 persons died of Influenza. What happened in the first 6 months of this year? Could it be that people died of flu but were classified as Covid victims ? I would like to see the statistics regarding influenza

    • Steve permalink
      July 1, 2020 12:59 pm

      My Mrs works with some of the top surgeons who have been treating the covid patients during the peak of the epidemic, working 12 hour shifts. They have found that this virus is very different from flu. It not only affects the respiratory organs but binds to proteins in the gut and enters the vascular system, affecting the heart, kidneys and nervous system. These aren’t some Harley St types but top specialists in teaching hospitals and they know what they’re talking about. When they certify death by covid they know whether it’s flu or not. Most of their patients were previously fit or with well contained conditions and would have lived much longer. Many who survived have been left injured. The excess deaths picked up later by the statistics office include any of these deaths that were not tested but could include the patients who died of heart attacks and stroke who could not or chose not to go to hospitals. Either way, if covid hadn’t come along, they would probably still be alive. And we still have all the undiagnosed cancer patients who left it too late and will appear in future statistics.

      • John Warren permalink
        July 1, 2020 2:44 pm

        Many thanks for that. Informative. However, I would like to see the flu statistics for the period January to June 2020. Appreciate how I could get that information

      • Steve permalink
        July 1, 2020 5:20 pm

        Public Health England flu and respiratory diseases 2019-2020. It shows previous years too.

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        July 1, 2020 11:19 pm

        Steve, the majority of deaths are older patients, and a high proportion of the rest had other health issues – probably in excess of 95%. Your chance of dying of CV19 under the age of 75 is tiny, nearly non-existent under 65.

        Flu can also produce the effects you describe, medium term and permanent lung, liver, kidney, heart, brain (neurological), muscle etc. damage – if you care to search there are plenty of published papers.

        “binds to proteins in the gut”, perfectly normal mechanism by which a virus can infect/affect any mucosa in the human body – well documented for ‘ordinary flu’ – Bronchial/Esophageal/Gastric/Intestinal/Nasal/Oral etc.

        My mother had her quality of life permanently destroyed and life expectancy limited by ‘ordinary flu’ a few years ago – in fact the hospital had given up on her and gone to palliative care as she was too weak for a ventilator.

        I’m afraid even experts can get caught up in the moment and lose objectivity, and be prone to exaggeration. Remember ‘top surgeons’ switched roles and have probably never dealt with ‘ordinary flu’ before, and certainly not that many cases all at once – hence an increased chance of seeing complications.

        You can see age-specific mortality rates due to COVID-19, per 100,000 persons, during May 2020 here:

        https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsinvolvingcovid19englandandwales/deathsoccurringinmay2020#characteristics-of-those-dying-from-covid-19

        As of 26th June, of all the recorded CV deaths, just 1,265 had a death certificate with no other condition. Obviously many of those had incomplete information or were very elderly. Tragic, but the risk of a young healthy person dying of CV is minuscule.

        Any elderly person or person with an underlying health issue is on borrowed time, be it ‘ordinary flu’ or any other infection.

        “Experts predict there will be significant overlap between the coronavirus deaths and those that would normally be expected to die.” BBC June 2020

        There were not 50,000 (or whatever) avoidable deaths, they were mostly miserable decaying lives cut short by a few days.

  22. Ian Phillips permalink
    July 1, 2020 1:00 pm

    This is the interview with Prof. Gupta on the approach to COViD.
    Well worth listening too, and a contrast to the endless voice of Neil Ferguson.

  23. Gamecock permalink
    July 1, 2020 4:05 pm

    ‘But other factors are also at play with the elderly. How many have died, because visits from family have been stopped? Certainly anybody in a care home with dementia will have been badly affected.’

    This is very real. A friend’s mother died a few weeks ago. The friend told me that when the family stopped visiting her at the home, her mother got the idea that all had died from this virus she had heard about. With her family all dead, she went catatonic.

    • Steve permalink
      July 1, 2020 4:52 pm

      Most of the old ladies with dementia that I saw, when visiting friends and relations with other diseases, would not have recognised their children if they had been allowed in. Many of these patients are women because they are twice as likely to have the disease, which is much more common in the over 75s and women live longer than men.

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