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Covid: 2020 saw most excess deaths since World War Two

A nurse in ICU in a hospital in Tooting

PA Media

The Covid pandemic has caused excess deaths to rise to their highest level since World War Two.

There were close to 697,000 deaths in the UK in 2020 – nearly 91,000 more than what would be expected based on the average in the previous five years.

This represents an increase of 15% – making it the largest rise in excess deaths for more than 75 years.

When the age and size of the population is taken into account 2020 saw the worst death rates since the mid 2000s.

This measure – known as age-standardised mortality – takes into account population growth and age.

Chart showing excess deaths

Mistakes ‘cost lives’ in a pandemic

Richard Murray, chief executive of The King’s Fund, said the picture was likely to worsen given Covid deaths are rising following the surge in infections over recent weeks.

“The UK has one of the highest rates of excess deaths in the world, with more excess deaths per million people than most other European countries or the US.

‘It will take a public inquiry to determine exactly what went wrong, but mistakes have been made.

“In a pandemic, mistakes cost lives. Decisions to enter lockdown have consistently come late, with the government failing to learn from past mistakes or the experiences of other countries.

“The promised “protective ring” around social care in the first wave was slow to materialise and often inadequate, a contributing factor to the excess deaths among care home residents last year.

‘Like many countries, the UK was poorly prepared for this type of pandemic.”

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BBC News – Health

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