UK's coronavirus death toll: how does it compare with Spain and Italy?

Daily increase in volume of fatalities now puts UK on par with rises seen in Europe’s worst-hit countries

Where is the UK compared with other EU countries?

A total of 7,097 deaths have been recorded in hospitals across the UK to date. Although this is lower than the death tolls in Italy, the US, Spain and France, the daily increase in the volume of fatalities now puts the UK on a par with rises seen in Italy and Spain.

The deadliest day reported in Italy was on 28 March with 971 deaths and in Spain on 3 April with 950 fatalities, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Death tolls in both countries now appear to have hit their peak on those dates, with lower numbers reported since.

But are the UK’s figures accurate?

However, the figures we focus on don’t tell us the full picture of how many deaths are actually happening. Guardian analysis showed that due to delays in reporting we can’t accurately say how many deaths take place each day.

This means as previous days’ figures are continuously revised upwards, we don’t have a true picture of where the country is on the curve at any current point in time. It also means, as the headline death toll increases, we won’t know when we reach and pass the peak in real time. Similar issues are also faced in recording Covid-related deaths in other countries.

Deaths in the community change the picture

It also bears repeating that the true death toll is likely to be significantly higher once deaths in the community are factored in. In France more than 3,000 deaths have been recorded in care homes. The inclusion of deaths in the community caused its toll to increase sharply from 8,911 to 10,328 on 7 April – a daily increase of 1,417.

According to figures for England, Wales and Scotland the number of fatalities where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate is much higher than the official number we focus on. Preliminary figures from the Office for National Statistics show Covid-19 registered deaths have been 70% higher than the reported headline figure in England and Wales. These figures are anticipated to be the gold standard in Covid-19 fatalities as more deaths are registered. The equivalent figure is 61% higher in Scotland.

If these figures were to be included in Wednesday’s daily death toll, the UK would likely have already topped 1,000.

Contributor

Caelainn Barr

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Britons returning from coronavirus-hit Italy told to self-isolate
UK government issues advice to people travelling from quarantine regions

Kate Proctor Political correspondent

25, Feb, 2020 @10:09 AM

Article image
Timeline of UK's coronavirus PPE shortage
Britain did not join EU efforts to procure sufficient medical equipment to tackle crisis

Daniel Boffey Brussels

13, Apr, 2020 @6:32 PM

Article image
UK coronavirus death toll reaches 1,789 amid data reporting concerns
381 more deaths were reported yesterday but experts warn data from NHS trusts is inconsistent

Matthew Weaver

31, Mar, 2020 @4:48 PM

Article image
Coronavirus: socialising at Christmas 'very risky', say NHS bosses
Fears that relaxing restrictions over festive period will put further pressure on hospitals

Ian Sample Science editor

13, Dec, 2020 @4:30 PM

Article image
The Guardian view on the EU and Covid-19: better late than never | Editorial
Editorial: Europe is in the pandemic frontline but unity among the nations has been rare. That may be changing – not before time

Editorial

24, Apr, 2020 @5:30 PM

Article image
Officials investigate coronavirus hotspot in West Midlands
Religion and fears of social isolation among suggested theories for region’s 28 deaths

Nazia Parveen North of England correspondent

20, Mar, 2020 @9:59 AM

Article image
UK ministers struggle to keep promise of 100k coronavirus tests by end of April
Frustrated NHS staff and scientists say they have labs ready but cannot get the materials

Sarah Boseley and Lisa O'Carroll

03, Apr, 2020 @3:40 PM

Article image
We doctors are scared of the coronavirus crisis. How could we not be? | Anonymous
I’m an NHS consultant and I take heart from the calmness and courage my staff are showing, despite the creeping fear

The Secret Consultant

16, Mar, 2020 @11:10 AM

Article image
UK could have Europe's worst coronavirus death rate, says adviser
Daily death toll shows position is comparable to other badly hit countries, says Jeremy Farrar

Rowena Mason Deputy political editor

12, Apr, 2020 @4:19 PM

Article image
Covid tests sent to Italy and Germany as UK labs are overwhelmed
Leaked documents reveal backlog of 185,000 swabs and tests sent abroad for processing

Jedidajah Otte

13, Sep, 2020 @5:47 PM