Revealed: more than 20,000 extra people have died so far in 2021 in England and Wales

Our interactive map shows which areas have experienced the biggest surge in excess deaths this year

More than 20,000 extra people died in England and Wales in the first five months of 2021 compared to pre-pandemic levels, with southern regions worst affected, analysis by NationalWorld shows.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows 300,915 deaths were registered across the two countries between January and the end of June this year, excluding people who died in but did not usually live in England or Wales.

Sign up to our NationalWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

We want to hear from you: let us know what you think about this story and be part of the debate in our comments section below

The average number of deaths registered over the same period between 2015 and 2019 was 279,050 – meaning this year saw an increase of 21,865 deaths, a rise of 7.8%.

A five-year average is used for comparison to smooth out any fluctuations in previous years, such as from particularly bad winter flu seasons.

Loading....

London was the worst affected region, according to NationalWorld’s analysis. Just over 5,000 extra deaths were registered in the region, giving an increase of almost a fifth (19.3%).

The East of England and South East regions followed, with a rise of 11.5% each.

Is this all the Covid effect?

Separate data from the UK Government’s Covid dashboard shows 47,479 people died within 28 days of a positive Covid test between January and June – far higher than the level of excess mortality revealed in the ONS deaths registered data.

North Lancashire GP, Dr George Hobbs, told NationalWorld it was possible many of the deaths counted in the UK Government data were not caused directly by Covid – but that the pandemic could also have indirectly caused more deaths.

“There is an expectation amongst academics and clinicians that the effects of lockdown and patients’ reluctance to attend medical facilities during Covid may well have caused an increase in mortality in 2021,” he said.

“This is due to other conditions such as cardiovascular disease and cancer both acutely and as a hangover effect from the impact of Covid and lockdown on patients’ medical care during 2020.”

Diagnosis or management of conditions could have been delayed or prevented because of people’s reluctance to seek help, or because of the reduced availability of services while medics dealt with the Covid crisis, he added.

However, Sarah Scobie of the Nuffield Trust charity has said England has seen fewer deaths from other illnesses such as flu this year because of social distancing, meaning some Covid deaths could have been balanced out.

Which areas had the largest increases?

The council district with the greatest increase in deaths in 2021 was the City of London, which saw a 45.8% rise.

The City of London has a very small permanent population, so slight changes in the number of deaths represents a large percentage increase. There were only nine extra deaths in 2021.

Following this, Newham in East London had the second highest increase, at 41.7%.

Of the 20 council districts with the greatest increase in mortality, 11 were in London, six were in the South East, two were in the East and one was in the North West.

The council areas with the largest decreases

In 51 council districts across England and Wales, there were fewer deaths recorded in 2021 compared to the five-year average.

The council with the largest decrease was Torridge where there was a 13.4% drop. Second to Torridge was the neighbouring district of North Devon which had a decrease of 13.1%.

Of the 20 council areas that saw the biggest decreases in mortality there were nine in the South West, four in Wales, two in the North East, and one each in the East, the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, the East Midlands and the West Midlands.

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going.