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.


Caelainn Barr

The GuardianTramp

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