Comparison of Two COVID-19 Mortality Measures Used in the Pandemic Response in England

7 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2023

See all articles by Giulia Seghezzo

Giulia Seghezzo

UK Health Security Agency - COVID-19 Vaccines and Epidemiology Division

Hester Allen

Public Health England; UK Health Security Agency - COVID-19 Vaccines and Epidemiology Division

Clare Griffiths

UK Health Security Agency - Data Product Development Division

Justine Pooley

Government of the United Kingdom - Health Analysis and Pandemic Insight Division

Liam Beardsmore

Government of the United Kingdom - Health Analysis and Pandemic Insight Division

Sarah Caul

Government of the United Kingdom - Health Analysis and Pandemic Insight Division

Myer Glickman

Government of the United Kingdom - Office for National Statistics; Government of the United Kingdom - Health Analysis and Life Events Division

Tom Clare

UK Health Security Agency - COVID-19 Vaccines and Epidemiology Division

Gavin Dabrera

UK Health Security Agency - COVID-19 National Epidemiology Cell; UK Health Security Agency - COVID-19 Vaccines and Epidemiology Division

Meaghan Kall

Public Health England Colindale; UK Health Security Agency - COVID-19 National Epidemiology Cell; UK Health Security Agency - COVID-19 Vaccines and Epidemiology Division

Date Written: January 20, 2023

Abstract

Two main statistics have been used to count COVID-19 deaths in England: death registrations involving COVID-19 (reported by the ONS) and deaths within 28 days of a positive SARS-COV-2 test (reported by the UKHSA). The 28-day measure is a timely measure of COVID-19 deaths to inform public health response, but less precise than death registrations which consider the cause of death. When compared, the two measures closely tracked one another (85-90% correlation) between May 2020 – December 2021. The UKHSA measure under-reported deaths at the very start of the pandemic prior to the scale up of community testing (March-April 2020). From January 2022, a marked uncoupling was observed corresponding with the emergence of the Omicron variant and widespread population immunity. While both measures remain useful, they serve different purposes. Death registrations are a reference for overall death toll from COVID-19 (along with excess mortality estimates) and the 28-day death measure is most useful as a rapid indicator of death following COVID-19 infection, with peak utility when a new variant emerges or during a new wave which requires timely monitoring of severity for public health purposes.

Note:

Funding Information: This study was funded by the UK Health Security Agency and the Office of National Statistics.

Declaration of Interests: There is no competing interest we would like to declare.

Keywords: COVID-19, SARS-COV-2, mortality, deaths, death registration, surveillance

Suggested Citation

Seghezzo, Giulia and Allen, Hester and Griffiths, Clare and Pooley, Justine and Beardsmore, Liam and Caul, Sarah and Glickman, Myer and Clare, Tom and Dabrera, Gavin and Kall, Meaghan, Comparison of Two COVID-19 Mortality Measures Used in the Pandemic Response in England (January 20, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4331758 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4331758

Giulia Seghezzo (Contact Author)

UK Health Security Agency - COVID-19 Vaccines and Epidemiology Division ( email )

Hester Allen

Public Health England ( email )

Wellington House,
133-155 Waterloo Rd,
London, SE1 8UG

UK Health Security Agency - COVID-19 Vaccines and Epidemiology Division ( email )

Clare Griffiths

UK Health Security Agency - Data Product Development Division

Justine Pooley

Government of the United Kingdom - Health Analysis and Pandemic Insight Division

Liam Beardsmore

Government of the United Kingdom - Health Analysis and Pandemic Insight Division

Sarah Caul

Government of the United Kingdom - Health Analysis and Pandemic Insight Division

Myer Glickman

Government of the United Kingdom - Office for National Statistics ( email )

Government of the United Kingdom - Health Analysis and Life Events Division ( email )

Tom Clare

UK Health Security Agency - COVID-19 Vaccines and Epidemiology Division ( email )

Gavin Dabrera

UK Health Security Agency - COVID-19 National Epidemiology Cell ( email )

London
United Kingdom

UK Health Security Agency - COVID-19 Vaccines and Epidemiology Division ( email )

Meaghan Kall

Public Health England Colindale ( email )

61 Colindale Avenue
London, NW9 5EQ
United Kingdom

UK Health Security Agency - COVID-19 National Epidemiology Cell ( email )

London
United Kingdom

UK Health Security Agency - COVID-19 Vaccines and Epidemiology Division ( email )

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