Table of contents
1. Main points
Due to an issue with our automated coding system, a number of deaths from week 51 were not cause coded until after the cut-off date for weekly deaths.
In the week ending 24 December 2021 (Week 51), 13,013 deaths were registered in England and Wales; this was 613 more deaths than the previous week (Week 50) and 12.7% above the five-year average (1,465 more deaths).
The number of deaths registered in England in the week ending 24 December 2021 (Week 51) was 12,155; this was 532 more deaths than the previous week (Week 50) and 12.5% above the five-year average (1,351 more deaths).
The number of deaths registered in Wales in the week ending 24 December 2021 (Week 51) was 828; this was 70 more deaths than the previous week (Week 50) and 15.3% above the five-year average (110 more deaths).
Of the deaths registered in Week 51 in England and Wales, 852 mentioned "novel coronavirus (COVID-19)", accounting for 6.5% of all deaths; this was an increase in the number of deaths compared with Week 50 (755 deaths, 6.1% of all deaths).
The number of deaths involving COVID-19 in England increased to 797in Week 51, compared with 702 in Week 50; for Wales, deaths involving COVID-19 decreased to 49 in Week 51, compared with 51 in Week 50.
Using the most up-to-date data we have available, the number of deaths from the week ending 13 March 2020 to the week ending 24 December 2021 was 1,074,689 in England and Wales; of these, 1,007,231 were recorded in England and 66,033 were recorded in Wales.
From the week ending 13 March 2020 to the week ending 24 December 2021, the number of excess deaths above the five-year average in England and Wales was 134,391; of these, 128,693 were recorded in England and 6,950 were recorded in Wales.
In Week 51 in England and Wales, the number of deaths was above the five-year average in private homes (34.3% above, 942 excess deaths), hospitals (7.2% above, 386 excess deaths) and care homes (4.8% above, 125 more deaths), but below the five-year average in other settings (1.5% below, 13 fewer deaths).
Figures for the number of deaths registered in the UK, Scotland and Northern Ireland for Week 51 are not currently available; they will be included in next week’s release (Week 52).
Figure 1: Total deaths from all causes were above the five-year average in Week 51
Number of deaths registered by week, England and Wales, 28 December 2019 to 24 December 2021
Figures include deaths of non-residents.
Based on date a death was registered rather than occurred.
All figures for 2020 and 2021 are provisional.
The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10) definitions are available in the Measuring the data section.
The number of deaths registered in a week are affected when bank holidays occur.
The average for 2015 to 2019 provides a comparison of the number of deaths expected per week in a usual (non-pandemic) year.
2. Deaths data
Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional
Dataset | Released 5 January 2022
Provisional counts of the number of deaths registered in England and Wales, by age, sex and region, in the latest weeks for which data are available. Includes data on coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths.
Death registrations and occurrences by local authority and health board
Dataset | Released 5 January 2022
Provisional counts of the number of deaths registered in England and Wales, including deaths involving COVID-19, by local authority, health board and place of death in the latest weeks for which data are available.
Number of deaths in care homes notified to the Care Quality Commission, England
Dataset | Released 5 January 2022
Provisional counts of deaths in care homes caused by COVID-19 by local authority. Published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Care home resident deaths registered in England and Wales, provisional
Dataset | Released 5 January 2022
Provisional counts of the number of care home resident deaths registered in England and Wales, by region, including deaths involving COVID-19, in the latest weeks for which data are available.
Try the new way to filter and download these data:
- Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales by age and sex: COVID-19
- Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales by region: COVID-19
- Death registrations and occurrences by local authority and place of death
- Death registrations and occurrences by health board and place of death
Coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths
Coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths are those deaths registered in England and Wales in the stated week where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate. A doctor can certify the involvement of COVID-19 based on symptoms and clinical findings - a positive test result is not required. Definitions of COVID-19 for deaths in Scotland and Northern Ireland are similar to England and Wales.Back to table of contents
4. Measuring the data
To meet user needs, we publish very timely but provisional counts of death registrations in England and Wales in our Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional dataset. These are presented:
- by sex
- by age group
- for regions (within England)
- for Wales as a whole
To allow time for registration and processing, figures are published 11 days after the week ends. Because of the rapidly changing situation, we also provide provisional updated totals for death occurrences based on the latest available death registrations, up to 1 January 2022.
This weekly release now provides a separate breakdown of the number of deaths involving coronavirus (COVID-19); that is, where COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 was mentioned anywhere on the death certificate, including in combination with other health conditions.
If a death certificate mentions COVID-19, it will not always be the main cause of death but may be a contributory factor. This bulletin summarises the latest weekly information and will be updated each week during the coronavirus pandemic.
The data for 2020 are based on a 53-week year. Because the number of days in a week is seven, when there are 52 weeks, we only cover 364 days of the 365 days in the year. This results in one remaining day each calendar year not being included in the 52 weeks. With the occurrence of leap years, it is sometimes necessary to add a 53rd week to the end of the calendar, which was the case in 2020. This happens every five years - the last time there was a Week 53 was in 2015. Given the low frequency of Week 53, it is more appropriate to compare the 2020 figures with the average for Week 52 than to compare it with a single year from five years previous. View more detail on the data coverage for the weekly deaths bulletin in our Coronavirus and mortality in England and Wales methodology.
Influenza and pneumonia has been included for comparison in the Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional dataset as a well-understood cause of death involving respiratory infection that is likely to have somewhat similar risk factors to COVID-19.
This bulletin is based mainly on the date deaths are registered, not the date of death, because of the time taken for a death to be registered. Deaths in England and Wales are normally registered within five days, but there can be a considerably longer delay in some circumstances, particularly when the death is referred to a coroner. More information on this issue can be found in our Impact of registration delays on mortality statistics article.
We have developed a statistical model to estimate the number of deaths likely to have occurred in each week based on previous experience of the pattern of registration delays, including the effects of bank holidays. You can find out more about this statistical model in our Predicting total weekly death occurrences in England and Wales methodology. Results are shown in the "Estimated total deaths 2021" tab of the Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional dataset.
From the week ending 26 February 2021 (Week 8), new International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) codes for COVID-19 issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) were implemented for deaths involving COVID-19. View more detail about the additional classification codes for COVID-19 in the Coronavirus and mortality in England and Wales methodology.
We will publish accompanying articles periodically, giving enhanced information such as age-standardised and age-specific mortality rates for recent time periods, and breakdowns of deaths involving COVID-19 by associated pre-existing health conditions.
Our User guide to mortality statistics provides further information on data quality, legislation and procedures relating to mortality and includes a glossary of terms.Back to table of contents
5. Strengths and limitations
These weekly figures are for England and Wales only (as this is the Office for National Statistics' (ONS) legal remit). They are from the formal death registration process and may include cases where the doctor completing the death certificate diagnosed possible cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), for example, where this was based on relevant symptoms, but no test was conducted. The ONS figures are different from the daily surveillance figures on COVID-19 deaths published by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on GOV.UK, which are for the UK as a whole and its constituent countries.
From 29 April 2020, the DHSC published improved data for England from Public Health England (PHE) to include a count of all deaths, regardless of location, where a positive COVID-19 test was confirmed. Previously, only confirmed COVID-19 deaths in hospitals were reported. This improved the comparability with figures for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, where deaths outside of hospitals were already being included, and ensured that the UK-wide series had a shared and common definitional coverage. View the ONS statement regarding different uses of figures on deaths related to COVID-19 for more detail on these data changes.
On 12 August 2020, the PHE data series was revised to include deaths of positively tested individuals where the death occurred within 28 days, and deaths within 60 days of a positive test. The Public Health England technical summary (PDF, 854KB) provides more detail on these changes.
View more detail on the differences in definitions of COVID-19 deaths between sources and differences in definitions of COVID-19 deaths in care homes in the Coronavirus and mortality in England and Wales methodology.
More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in the Mortality statistics in England and Wales QMI.Back to table of contents
Contact details for this Statistical bulletin
Telephone: +44 1329 444110