You asked

​Please provide the total number of flu deaths in the UK as of 2020 compared to the last 5 years.

Also the total people who have died in 2020 compared with the last 5 years.

And COVID-19-related deaths from supermarkets.

We said

Thank you for your request.

We are responsible for the provision of mortality statistics for England and Wales. National Records Scotland (NRS) and Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) are responsible for statistics pertaining to Scotland and Northern Ireland. They can be contacted at and respectively.

Our mortality data comes from the information collected at death registration. All of the conditions mentioned on the death certificate are coded using the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10). From all of these causes an underlying cause of death is selected using ICD-10 coding rules. The underlying cause of death is defined by WHO as:

a) the disease or injury that initiated the train of events directly leading to death, or

b) the circumstances of the accident or violence that produced the fatal injury

Influenza deaths in 2020:

The downloadable dataset beneath Figure 2 of our most recent Weekly deaths bulletin provides weekly data showing the number of deaths from influenza and pneumonia combined (ICD-10 codes J09-J18) in 2020.

More in-depth analysis of deaths occurring between 1st January and 31st August 2020, including a split of flu and pneumonia figures for England and Wales and comparisons of deaths from COVID with deaths from flu and pneumonia are available here: Deaths due to coronavirus (COVID-19) compared with deaths from influenza and pneumonia, England and Wales.

A full breakdown of deaths by influenza and pneumonia separately for 2020 will be available once the data is finalised in mid-2021. Consequently, this information is considered exempt under Section 22(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, whereby information is exempt from release if there is a view to publish the information in the future. Furthermore, as a central government department and producer of official statistics, we need to have the freedom to be able to determine our own publication timetables. This is to allow us to deal with the necessary preparation, administration and context of publications. It would be unreasonable to consider disclosure when to do so would undermine our functions.

This exemption is subject to a public interest test. We recognise the desirability of information being freely available and this is considered by ONS when publication schedules are set in accordance with the Code of Practice for Statistics. The need for timely data must be balanced against the practicalities of applying statistical skill and judgement to produce the high quality, assured data needed to inform decision-making. If this balance is incorrectly applied, then we run the risk of decisions being based on inaccurate data which is arguably not in the public interest.  This will have an impact on public trust in official statistics in a time when accuracy of official statistics is more important to the public than ever before.

The final release date will be announced on our Release Calendar.

Deaths from influenza 2015 to 2019:

The number of deaths where influenza was the underlying cause can be obtained via our NOMIS webservice for 2013 to 2019.  Influenza can be identified using ICD-10 code J09-J11.

Please see the following instructions for using this service:

  1. Select the geography - England and Wales, regional or by local authority
  2. Select Age – All ages or 5-year age bands
  3. Select Gender – Total or Male/Female
  4. Select rates – All deaths, rates or percentage of population, etc.
  5. Select cause of death – Please select ICD-10 codes J09-J11.
  6. Select format (Excel or CSV for example)

Total annual deaths 2015 to 2020:

The annual total of those who have died in England and Wales in 2020 plus totals for the UK and England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland separately in the previous five years can be found in the following link to a previous FOI response: Annual UK Death Totals 2013 to 2020.

Deaths from COVID-19 where COVID-19 was contracted in a supermarket:

We are unable to discern from the information recorded on the death certificate where COVID-19 was contracted. Therefore, we do not hold this information. NHS Track and Trace Statistics are available, however they also do not pinpoint where the infection was contracted.

It may be worth contacting Public Health England (PHE) or the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) with your query, as they may be better placed to help. Their contact details are as follows:

DHSC: DHSC FOI Contact Form