Seasonal excess death data published on Tuesday suggested Britain’s death toll linked to the novel coronavirus pandemic may have already passed 50,000.
The Health Ministry’s official death toll, due to be updated later on Tuesday, currently stands at 32,000, the highest in Europe. This includes only the deaths of people whose infections were confirmed by tests.
However, a weekly update from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggested Britain had 50,000 more deaths than was usual in the mid-March to early May period.
The ONS totals include deaths directly linked to the virus and others for which COVID-19 was listed on death certificates.
Other deaths are believed to have occurred due to the lockdown, such as seriously ill people unable to get treatment due to the suspension of non-urgent health services.
Many experts had already estimated Britain’s death toll at 40,000 to 50,000.
Health data analyst Jamie Jenkins estimated on Sunday that Britain’s death toll was more than 57,000, based on seasonal excess death figures. Jenkins said he planned to update his estimate later on Tuesday.
The new figures came as analysis by the Financial Times on Tuesday suggested 50,979 deaths were linked to coronavirus infections, while independent health experts said Britain’s official totals of both cases and deaths were “certain to be underestimated.”
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent health research centre at the University of Washington, has forecast that Britain’s official death toll will reach 40,555 by Aug 4.