While everyone’s focused on the Cummings circus, shocking news emerges about the UK death rate

Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings
Tracy Keeling

The British public is understandably angry about Dominic Cummings’ behaviour during lockdown. It’s scandalous that he travelled to a different house and drove to Barnard Castle – apparently as a 50-mile long eyesight test – while most people stayed at home. But much more devastating news has just emerged about the Conservative government’s handling of the pandemic.

Top of the death rate tally

The Financial Times has dug into the UK’s coronavirus (Covid-19) death rate. Based on the latest available data in the country and 19 others where “high-quality data” exists, the FT has calculated that the UK “has suffered the highest rate of deaths from the coronavirus pandemic”.

The FT looked specifically at the number of excess deaths in the UK and the other countries from the point they started to climb “above five-year averages”. Excess deaths are the total number of deaths in a certain period minus the average mortality for the same period over the past five years. It compared the UK’s excess deaths during the pandemic with other badly hit countries, such as the US, Italy, France, Spain, and Peru.

Since the week ending 20 March, the UK has registered 59,537 excess deaths, the FT said. According to the media outlet, this indicates that the virus has led to the deaths – directly or indirectly – of 891 people per million over the assessed period. The FT asserts:

At this stage of the pandemic, that is a higher rate of death than in any country for which high-quality data exist. The absolute number of excess deaths in the UK is also the highest in Europe, and second only to the US in global terms, according to data collected by the Financial Times.

Meanwhile, the UK came top among European countries on another measure: the percentage increase in excess deaths “relative to historical averages”. Internationally, only Peru came ahead of the UK on this.

Fuzzy future ‘truth’

To be clear, there have been more excess deaths per million people in the UK than in any other country, according to the FT. Also, only the US is ahead of the UK in terms of the total number of excess deaths so far – the US has nearly five times the population size of the UK. Finally, only Peru – which has battled a dengue fever epidemic alongside coronavirus – has a higher percentage increase in excess deaths compared with standard levels.

As the cherry on this godawful statistical cake, the FT found that the timing of countries’ lockdowns had a big impact on excess mortality rates. Countries like Germany and Norway brought in restrictions before coronavirus spread widely. They had lower excess death rates than in the UK, which took its time in locking the country down.

Responding to the FT‘s findings, a government spokesperson said “drawing conclusions at this stage” was “wrong and premature”. They added:

We will, of course, learn lessons from our response to this virus, but these must be drawn from an accurate international analysis in the future

In short, the government kicked this shocking news into the long grass. It pitched the FT‘s ‘wrong’ conclusions against some unspecified, future ‘accurate’ analysis. Essentially, it tried to fob people off with the promise of some fuzzy future ‘truth’ regarding the impact of its catastrophic handling of the coronavirus pandemic on people’s lives.

Featured image via YouTube – BBCYouTube – The Telegraph

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. Surely the two things are connected. While most of the public were trying to do the right thing, staying safe and supporting our NHS staff, Cummings and others were disregarding their own rules and focused on matters other than public health.
      And it raises the important question – why were Cummings and Ferguson, judging by their own actions, not as frightened of the coronavirus as the public were being told to be?

    2. I keep seeing the number of excess deaths recorded but is that number calculated to include how many fewer deaths from road traffic accidents there have been? Surely,with so much fewer vehicles on the roads, there must have been a lot less road deaths, if the deaths are significantly reduced then surely that makes the excess death figure far,far worse than is being reported?

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.