You asked

​Public Health England have pointed me in your direction in relation to the total deaths from COVID-19 which do not relate to a pre-existing condition, I am surprised to see that as many as 8 children have died with no pre-existing condition.

Please could you confirm for me, of those 8 children with no pre-existing medical condition, was COVID-19 the sole cause of their death? Were they admitted to hospital with COVID-19? Did they test positive for COVID-19? Or was it just mentioned on their death certificate?

I am keen to understand if any were accidental deaths, or deaths unrelated to COVID-19, or which were occurring in profoundly unwell children (for example very premature babies), occurring in coincidence with a positive PCR/NAAT test.

We said

Thank you for your request.

The mortality data published by ONS are derived from the formal process of death registration. For Scotland and Northern Ireland statistics please contact National Records Scotland and NISRA respectively.

Deaths from COVID-19 may include cases where the doctor completing the death certificate diagnosed possible cases of COVID-19, for example, where this was based on relevant symptoms but no test for the virus was conducted. Deaths with a positive test are coded using the ICD10 code U0.71 and those with suspected COVID-19 but no test has been conducted are coded with ICD10 U0.72.

To be clear, a doctor will only mention COVID-19 on the death certificate if they believed according to their professional judgement and the available evidence that the infection was directly or indirectly responsible for the person's death. If a person died who had suffered from COVID-19 or had a positive test, but this did not contribute to their death, it would not be mentioned on the death certificate. It is extremely unlikely that, for example, a person who died in an accident after a positive COVID-19 test would have it mentioned on their death certificate.

ONS have been producing Pre-existing conditions of people whose death was recorded with an underlying cause of COVID-19, this dataset can be found in section 8 of the Monthly mortality analysis bulletin. This dataset provides a greater insight into the leading pre-existing cause of death groups, for deaths occurring in England and Wales, in 2020 and the first quarter of 2021 that were due to COVID-19.

Please see 'table 1a, row 28 (2020) and row 29 (2021)' for deaths where COVID-19 was listed as the underlying cause, but had no other pre-existing conditions recorded on the death certificate, England and Wales.

COVID-19 deaths involving pre-existing conditions is split by broad age groups between 1-64 and 65+. We are unable to produce deaths by pre-existing conditions using smaller age groups as the number of deaths would become very small. We hold information relating to the deaths of individuals however we will be unable to release this to you. Section 39 of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 (SRSA) makes it an offence to release personal information. Personal information is any information held by the Board for statistical purposes that would identify an individual or a body corporate. This includes individuals that are deceased. Because disclosure is prohibited by another enactment, s.44 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) applies.

If you would like to discuss these statistics further, please contact