Wednesday 21 October 2020


 On October 19 (yesterday) the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that there had been 39,944,882 confirmed cases of COVID-19 so far in this pandemic. Rounding up, 40 million of our species have been infected with this virus. And of these cases, 1,111,998 have died. 1.1 million human beings. A 2.8 per cent mortality rate. 

Of course, such figures cannot be taken as an exact record of what has been happening over this last year - but they do point to the gravity of the menace we are facing. The second wave of this viral pandemic has just started. We have who knows how many months still to go in this second wave and we are now moving into the winter months when immune systems may be weakened by other seasonal illnesses. The historical record for pandemics suggests that a third wave may also have to be endured.  

The First Wave

In the so-called 'mother of all pandemics', the Spanish flu of 1918/19, there were at least 50 million deaths worldwide. The Asian flu pandemic of 1957 cost nearly 2 million lives. The Hong Hong flu

pandemic of 1968 was responsible for up to 4 million deaths. A little-reported pandemic in 2009 took around half-a-million lives. We are probably less than halfway through this viral war and we have already lost over 1 million.  

One thing is certain. Putting the pursuit of profit before the lives of people leads to unnecessary death. Yes, we do need to protect our economies but we do that by putting the protection of people first for as long as it takes to stop the spread of the virus. Dead bodies don't work. Corpses don't pay taxes.

This is very largely man-made death 

Countries such as China and New Zealand - so different in so many ways - have shown us how this virus can be defeated. Whereas those who have prioritized profit and followed the path of 'herd immunity' have seen their mortality rates soar. For Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand prime minister, such a path is 'unthinkable'. If you have your head screwed on the right way, you lock down - and then use the isolation period to ensure that fully-functioning track and test systems are in place to help in the elimination of the virus once restrictions are slowly eased. 

This is so obvious.

Yet we end up in this body-strewn mess. And this is when the deception and lies start. We need to know how many people are dying in this epidemic - but the wealthy and powerful have their vested interests to protect. They have been agents in the decision-making that has led to the pursuit of 'herd immunity'. Their reflex action is to stop others from knowing the full cost of their deadly policies. 

The killer virus - SARS-CoV-2

There is a consensus within scientific communities that the figure for excess deaths over this period of the pandemic will be the most accurate indicator for the death toll caused by COVID-19. Here in the UK, the media seems to be colluding with the Government to prevent this figure from reaching the general public. My earlier research suggested that the figure of excess deaths in the first wave of this pandemic from March through to July would be approaching 70,000. The official figure remains at a little over 40,000. That is some deception.  

To help give you, my readers, top-quality information, here are the highlights from an article in the British Medical Journal by Veena S Raleigh, senior fellow at the King's Fund, dated 4 September 2020 (my online thanks and acknowledgements to the author):

'Recent changes in definition can’t disguise the UK’s poor international ranking

Although what’s around the corner is unpredictable, it’s timely to take stock after the recent tsunami of deaths.

Evidence of the UK’s higher overall death toll during the first wave of the pandemic relative to comparable countries is unequivocal. England had the highest excess all-cause mortality rate among 23 European countries in the first five months of 2020 compared with 2015-19, followed by Spain and Scotland, with mortality being spread throughout the country in contrast to the more localised patterns in Europe. England also had the second (after Spain) highest peak of excess all-cause mortality and the slowest fall to normal levels—so the longest period of excess deaths. The contrasts with Norway, Finland, Denmark, Austria, and some eastern European countries, where no excess mortality was observed throughout 2020, are even sharper.

Recent changes to the definition of a covid-19 death in England (from all deaths after a positive test to deaths within 28 days) have reduced the UK’s official covid-19 death toll by 16%. But the change doesn’t alter the UK’s poor ranking among European peers. Excess mortality rates based on death certification data are more reliable for national and international comparisons than the covid-19 “surveillance” data used for tracking the pandemic’s trajectory. Comparisons of excess mortality circumvent differences in how covid-19 deaths are counted and also include deaths from the wider effects of the pandemic.

So where are we now and how did we get here? The overall death rate for England from 1 January to 31 July 2020 was the highest since 2009 (less consistently true also of Wales).The year got off to a good start, with a mild influenza season and almost 5000 fewer deaths in England and Wales up to early March 2020 than the 2015-19 average. But in the ensuing five months, there were over 58 000 more deaths than the 2015-19 average, of which almost 52 000 (89%) were related to covid-19. Almost half (44%) of all excess deaths occurred in care homes.

Total deaths returned to near normal levels some weeks ago, as they did in other European countries, after which they fell below normal. In the eight weeks to 7 August there were about 1700 (2%) fewer all cause deaths in England and Wales than the 2015-19 average. This welcome respite has a darker side, however, as it suggests many of the earlier deaths had been premature, for which ONS analyses provide further corroboration. It’s unclear whether the increase in deaths in the fortnight to 21 August to above average levels is related to a heatwave or signals a longer term trend. 

Wider effects of the pandemic

....  lives have undoubtedly been lost as substantially fewer people received healthcare for life threatening conditions during this period. Such deaths could mount over time as the NHS struggles to cope with the backlog of deferred care alongside winter pressures and a possible resurgence of covid-19. Although other countries also face these challenges, the UK is less well equipped to deal with them, with overstretched health and social care services that historically have been under-resourced and understaffed compared with other high performing health systems.

Among the many brutal realities of the pandemic has been a clear amplification of existing socioeconomic and ethnic inequalities, both in the UK and beyond. Some commentators argue that disadvantaged communities are experiencing a syndemic, as the prevalence and severity of covid-19 are made worse by widespread inequalities in non-communicable disease and the socioeconomic determinants of health. The economic consequences of the pandemic are likely to exacerbate health inequalities further.

Overall, the UK’s record on mortality thus far compares badly with other European countries. The lessons of the first wave of covid-19 must be learnt and should inform policy decisions for tackling any resurgence. While controlling the pandemic is clearly a priority, it’s also imperative to take the long view as many of the risk factors for dying from covid-19—such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and deprivation—are also leading contributors to the lack-lustre mortality improvements and widening inequalities prevailing in the UK before the pandemic.'


There you have the academic picture - we have had 58,000 excess deaths in England and Wales and 52,000 (89%) were related to COVID-19. The chances are that a good number of those 6,000 non-Covid-19 deaths were in fact associated with the disease but were not registered as such. 

England and Wales - population density

Taking that figure of 58,000 excess deaths, what is missing? 

Did you spot the omission? The excess death figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland. We are, after all, for the time being at least, the United Kingdom. 

My google search for 'Excess deaths in Scotland in the period from March to July 2020' was hampered by the way the data was presented and I have had to make an estimate for deaths in hospital from COVID-19. Here are the figures as given by National Records of Scotland:

Excess deaths in care homes (where most excess deaths have occurred) = 2,365 (up 54%). COVID-19 was registered as the underlying cause in 79% of these excess deaths but is likely to have been the underlying cause in nearly all cases.

Excess deaths that occurred at home or in non-institutional settings = 2,717 (up 53%). COVID-19 was given as the underlying cause in 9% of cases. As above, this is likely to have been an under-recording.  

Excess deaths in hospitals = no definitive figure given - but by extrapolation, I calculate 2,080 with COVID-19 as the registered cause. Assuming say the same 79% figure as in care homes, we have an actual excess death figure = 2,633.

Add up the figures for the three categories and we are left with a total of 7,715 deaths. It is difficult to resist the conclusion that the Scottish government statisticians were under orders not to reveal that awful fact. 


My google search for excess deaths in Northern Ireland in the same period yielded this total:  

Excess deaths from 1 March to 30 June 2020 = 885. Of these, 837 (95%) were recorded as COVID-19 deaths.

Combine the figures for excess deaths for the three constituent parts of the United Kingdom and we reach a total of 66,600

And that is just in the first wave. RIP all you who are the souls in those statistics.

I get angry when I hear and see the death figure for COVID-19 issued on Channel 4 News every night. Last night, it was 43,967 - and that figure now includes of course deaths from the second wave. 

Truth is the first casualty of war.  

I am writing my pandemic journal for publication next year - see my website at for more information about 'Dying to Know'. My blog spot - on which I am writing and publishing this post - is Please, if you like and value what I write, follow me by pressing the Follow button on the top right-hand-side of the post. One small step for you, very bright news for me. The more followers I have, the closer I get to publication.


1 comment:

  1. Do we know who is making the money from coffin making ? And who is able to pay for all the funeral costs when poverty is so much part of the time? And those who are unable to attend to both celebrate a life and say good bye?
    Has the moral compass of this government managed to sink even lower than ever before?