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UK excess deaths during Covid-19 outbreak down by 1,500

The overall number of excess deaths in the UK since the coronavirus outbreak began has fallen by nearly 1,500 over the past six weeks, new figures show.

The total currently stands at just over 63,500 excess deaths, down from around 65,000.

The drop has been caused by a run of several weeks where the number of deaths registered across much of the UK have been below the five-year average.

Excess deaths are the number of deaths above the average for the corresponding period in previous years.

The latest figures from the UK’s statistics agencies show that up to the week ending June 12 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and to June 14 in Scotland, a total of 64,929 excess deaths had been recorded since the Covid-19 outbreak began.

But once a further six weeks of data is added, running to the week ending July 24 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (and to July 26 in Scotland), the total drops to 63,540.

Driving the fall has been six consecutive weeks in England and Wales where the number of registered deaths has been below the five-year average.

In Scotland, four of the most recent six weeks saw deaths below average, while in Northern Ireland three of the six weeks saw deaths at or below average.

The decline in the total number of excess deaths could be connected with how the coronavirus outbreak has affected the normal pattern of mortality for a calendar year.

Deaths that would have happened naturally in the second half of 2020 – of people in very old age or with advanced pre-existing medical conditions – are likely to have been pulled forward into the first half of the year by Covid-19.

These deaths occurring earlier than expected could be contributing to a period of deaths below the five-year average, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The latest figures also show that since the start of 2020 – rather than from the start of the coronavirus outbreak – there have now been around 58,000 excess deaths in the UK.

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