At 4.42pm today, it was announced that 37,048 lives had been lost in the UK because of COVID-19. That is a tragic statement, and nothing should be said to detract from the individual and collective loss. But the number is wrong. It is demonstrably wrong. Earlier today, the ONS announced that over the 9 weeks up to 15 May that there had been 52,278 unexpected deaths in England alone.
Moreover, we are able to use further data from the ONS and NHS England to predict that the number of deaths across the UK up till yesterday caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, either directly or indirectly, was 63,500. The Continuous Mortality Investigation Bureau from the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries made a similar prediction this morning that there were 64,000 unexpected deaths in their Weekly Mortality Monitor series.
As we start to ease from lockdown, it is absolutely essential that we are able to use up-to-date estimates of the number of cases and deaths so that localised and regional outbreaks can be identified and appropriate and sufficient actions taken. It is both misleading and dangerous to be publicising figures that are out-of-date and only focus on part of the picture when it is possible to share more reasonable and helpful predictions.
We owe it to the 63,500 lives that have been lost, and the many more that have been saved, because of the heroic efforts of those entrusted with our health and because of our collective actions and sacrifices. Tomorrow, let us hope that we are trusted with the reality of where we stand.