December 05, 2021

Undiagnosed coronavirus 'likely explanation for some excess deaths among elderly people'

June 05, 2020

Undiagnosed coronavirus is a "likely explanation" for some of the excess deaths not linked to COVID-19 in elderly people with other health conditions in England and Wales, the Office for National Statistics has said.

This is said to be particularly the case in excess deaths among women and those in care homes.

The ONS has looked at possible explanations for the number of non-coronavirus excess fatalities, and found a number of death certificates in England and Wales have stated that more information would be provided later.

Some of the certificates have since been updated to mention COVID-19.

The ONS said: "This supports the theory that COVID-19 is under-diagnosed at present on death certificates."

Deaths involving COVID-19 could also have been recorded as non-coronavirus deaths if the person had a severe underlying condition that was exacerbated by the disease - including deaths due to conditions such as chronic lower respiratory disease, dementia and Alzheimer's.

Separately, the fact that deaths related to asthma and diabetes are occurring at a "significantly higher rate compared to the five-year average" could indicate that some people with these conditions are not receiving care fast enough to prevent death taking place, due to extra pressures on the healthcare system.

The ONS added that it is "plausible" that some of these deaths are because undiagnosed COVID-19 had "exacerbated the pre-existing condition".

The figures have also confirmed a huge rise in the death rate in England and Wales since the start of the epidemic.

The data shows there have been 46,380 more deaths registered between 7 March and 1 May than the five-year average.

That's higher than the daily total released by the government which currently stands at around 40,000.

It reflects the high number of undiagnosed cases of COVID-19.

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The data shows there has been a spike in the number of deaths attributed to dementia - 5400 - which is likely to include care home residents whose lives may have been cut short by the virus.

The death rate figures have been released as ONS data also suggested the number of people with coronavirus has more than halved in the last week.

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