A new study by academics at the School of Business and Economics and The University of Sheffield, and economic consultants at Economic Insight, seeks to provide a more statistically robust approach to the question: “How many deaths in England and Wales are due to COVID-19?”.
Currently COVID-associated deaths or excess deaths are used to track the impact of the virus. However these figures may be distorted as to record a COVID-associated death you require only weak evidence that COVID ‘may’ have contributed to the death, and counting excess deaths assumes that any variation in weekly mortality relative to a five year average represents ‘excess’ deaths due to COVID without taking into account other drivers of mortality.
The new study, co-authored by Karligash Glass, Professor of Financial Economics and a respected economic data scientist within Loughborough University’s School of Business and Economics, Professor Anthony Glass (Professor of Managerial Economics, the University of Sheffield), Sam Williams (founder and Director of Economic Insight) and Alasdair Crookes (Consultant at Economic Insight) proposes an enhanced approach to crunching the COVID numbers.
The authors have used statistical techniques to better identify deaths due to COVID, applying the excess death framework more robustly and controlling for other factors that affect mortality. The key findings are as follows:
- Actual deaths due to COVID are some 54% or 63% lower than implied by the standard excess deaths measure, and reported excess deaths likely include a significant number of non-COVID deaths.
- While it is well known that COVID deaths are concentrated in the elderly, the study finds them to be particularly acute in the very elderly (75-84 and 85+ years old).
- Over the lockdown period as a whole Government policy has increased mortality rather than reduced it.