England had highest excess deaths across Europe in first half of 2020, new study finds

England experienced the longest continuous period of excess deaths as well as the highest levels, a comparison of 23 European countries found (NurPhoto/PA Images)
11:05am, Thu 30 Jul 2020
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England had the highest levels of excess deaths in Europe across the first half of 2020, according to new analysis by the Office for National Statistics.

The country experienced the longest continuous period of excess mortality as well as the highest levels, a comparison of 23 European countries found.

It is the first time the ONS has compared mortality rates in different countries to measure the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

By the week ending May 29, England had a relative cumulative age-standardised mortality rate of 7.55% – meaning it was 7.55% higher than the average mortality rate between 2015 and 2019.

England still had the highest cumulative excess deaths rate two weeks later, by the week ending June 12, though at this point there was only data available on 17 other countries to compare it with.

From February 14 to the week ending June 12, England experienced the second highest peak of excess deaths, after Spain.

Edward Morgan, from the ONS’s health analysis and life events division, said the first half of 2020 saw “extraordinary increases” in mortality rates across Western Europe, when compared with the average over the past five years.

He continued: “While none of the four UK nations had a peak mortality level as high as Spain or the worst-hit local areas of Spain and Italy, excess mortality was geographically widespread throughout the UK during the pandemic, whereas it was more geographically localised in most countries of Western Europe.

“Combined with the relatively slow downward ‘tail’ of the pandemic in the UK, this meant that, by the end of May, England had seen the highest overall relative excess mortality out of all the European countries compared.”

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