Flu vs Covid: Excess winter deaths surged to hit highest rate in 50 years – data compared

WHO warns of 'over 500k' Covid deaths in Europe by spring

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There were more than 60,000 excess winter deaths in England and Wales in the 2020/2021 winter period. This is a 6.1 uplift on the previous winter and the highest recorded rate since the winter of 1969/1970. Express.co.uk analyses the latest data from the ONS to show the comparison between deaths as a result of influenza and COVID-19.

COVID-19 accounted for 84 percent of excess winter deaths in England and 82.9 percent in Wales in 2020 to 2021.

There were 574.1 percent (49,200) additional deaths during the winter period than the non-winter period during 2020 to 2021 in England.

There were a total of 63,000 excess winter deaths in England and Wales from December to March 2021.

This is 6.1 times higher than the 10,320 observed for the same period in 2019/2020.

The increase has been attributed to a large number of deaths involving Covid during the non-winter months of 2020 and winter months of 2021.

By comparison, there were 29,290 excess winter deaths, excluding COVID-19, in 2019/2020.

The excess winter mortality index in England was significantly higher than all winters since the series began in 1991 to 1992.

In Wales, there was a 467.5 percent (2,900) rise in deaths between winter and non-winter.

The excess winter mortality index in Wales was also significantly higher than all winters since the series began in 1991 to 1992, except for 2017 to 2018.

Excess winter mortality compares the number of deaths which occurred in the winter period (December to March) with the average for non-winter periods (August to November and April to July).

Deaths as a result of influenza are included in the respiratory diseases’ cause of death category in the latest ONS report.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease had the highest excess mortality index in 2020/2021 – with 15.7 percent (2,700 deaths) and 12.3 percent (100 deaths) more occurring in the winter months than non-winter months in England and Wales, respectively.

Comparatively, influenza and other respiratory diseases including pneumonia, lung diseases, acute upper respiratory infections and more, was responsible for five percent (800) more excess winter deaths in England.

In Wales, respiratory diseases accounted for 7.5 percent (100) more deaths.

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The excess winter mortality index for each cause of death included in the report are as follows:


  • Circulatory diseases: 10.5
  • Respiratory diseases: 5.0
  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: 15.7
  • COVID-19: 574.1


  • Circulatory diseases: 12.1
  • Respiratory diseases: 7.4
  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: 12.3
  • COVID-19: 467.5.

The figures were published in a week when more than 1,000 weekly Covid deaths were recorded in England and Wales for the first time in eight months.

A total of 1,020 deaths were registered in the week ending November 12 where coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate, according to the ONS.

During the seven-day period, COVID accounted for about one in 12 deaths that were registered.

This is a three percent increase from the previous week when 995 deaths were recorded.

Registered deaths involving the virus increased in six of the nine English regions and fell in Wales.

People aged 80 and over accounted for 44.6 percent of the deaths registered in the seven days to 12 November – which is the lowest proportion for this age group since the week ending August 27.

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