September 17, 2021

COVID-19: Deaths above average in three quarters of neighbourhoods in England and Wales, figures show

August 03, 2021

More than three quarters of the neighbourhoods in England and Wales registered higher excess deaths than the five-year average in the year leading up to March 2021, Sky News analysis has found.

In April last year, the government's chief medical adviser Professor Chris Whitty said excess deaths were "the key metric" on which to measure the impact of the pandemic.

It refers to the number of deaths above the five-year average - helping to give a truer picture of the impact of the virus than government death and cases figures.

Sky News analysis shows that more than 5,400 out of the 7,201 neighbourhoods recorded more than five extra deaths compared with what was expected for the March to March period.

Out of those areas, 20 recorded twice or more the number of expected deaths based on the five-year average.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) data also shows that more than 200 areas registered more than double the number of expected deaths between March 2020 and July 2020.

However, between September 2020 and March 2021, the number of neighbourhoods that recorded more than twice the number of expected deaths had fallen to 49.

Thirteen areas registered twice or more than the expected number of deaths in both periods, and 10 of these areas are also among the top 20 neighbourhoods highlighted in our analysis.

The Sky News analysis also found that areas that are more ethnically diverse were more likely to have higher than average excess deaths.

Deprivation has been another factor that has driven coronavirus deaths - with ONS figures from last year showing people who live in the poorest parts of England were twice as likely to die with coronavirus as those in the most well-off areas.

Sky News analysis has found that the poorest parts of the country have also recorded higher excess deaths.

Factors such as age and the type of population, for example areas with lots of students, might also help to explain the variation in excess death figures across the UK.

The data released by the ONS comes as the UK recorded another 138 coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday - the highest daily total since 17 March.

Another 21,691 infections were also reported in the latest daily government figures.

This compares with the 21,952 COVID-19 cases and 24 deaths reported on Monday, and the 23,511 cases and 131 deaths this time last week.

Figures for deaths tend to be higher at the start of the week due to a lag in reporting over the weekend.


The Data and Forensics team is a multi-skilled unit dedicated to providing transparent journalism from Sky News.

We gather, analyse and visualise data to tell data-driven stories. We combine traditional reporting skills with advanced analysis of satellite images, social media and other open source information. Through multimedia storytelling we aim to better explain the world while also showing how our journalism is done.

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