Bringing together ONS weekly registrations today with predictions based on NHS England data highlights that over the 8 week period to May 8, we saw almost 48,000 extra deaths in England, with 23,500 COVID-registered deaths inside NHS hospitals and 15,000 in nursing homes/at home. Those numbers are humbling, but they also highlight our lack of understanding. There is a gap of 9,000 deaths that need to be understood if the right decisions are to be taken by society.
Unravelling these numbers will undoubledly be complex, and will involve
- consideration of the impact of lockdown itself (both positive and negative)
- estimating how much the presentation and treatment of both acute and chronic illnesses has been disrupted by the fear and confusion caused by the maelstrom of COVID-19
- using electronic health records to improve our assessment of where COVID-19 was the culprit or just an onlooker.
One further insight from the ONS data as we move into the world of more frequent (socially distanced) contacts with friends and family. Nursing homes saw their terrible toll peak 2 weeks after the hospitals - when attention was elsewhere. The most vulnerable need to be protected. We have been warned.