Excess mortality in England and Wales during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic

This article  has not been peer-reviewed 


Background Deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic result directly from infection and exacerbation of other diseases and indirectly from deferment of care for other conditions, and are socially and geographically patterned. We quantified excess mortality in regions of England and Wales during the pandemic, for all causes and for non-COVID-19 associated deaths. Methods Weekly mortality data for 1 Jan 2010 to 1 May 2020 for England and Wales were obtained from the Office of National Statistics. Mean-dispersion negative binomial regressions were used to model death counts based on pre-pandemic trends and exponentiated linear predictions were subtracted from: i) all-cause deaths; and ii) all-cause deaths minus COVID-19 related deaths for the pandemic period (07-13 March to 25 April to 8 May). Findings Between 7 March and 8 May 2020, there were 47,243 (95%CI: 46,671 to 47,815) excess deaths in England and Wales, of which 9,948 (95%CI: 9,376 to 10,520) were not associated with COVID-19. Overall excess mortality rates varied from 49 per 100,000 (95%CI: 49 to 50) in the South West to 102 per 100,000 (95%CI: 102 to 103) in London. Non-COVID-19 associated excess mortality rates ranged from -1 per 100,000 (95%CI: -1 to 0) in Wales (i.e. mortality rates were no higher than expected) to 26 per 100,000 (95%CI: 25 to 26) in the West Midlands. Interpretation The COVID-19 pandemic has had markedly different impacts on the regions of England and Wales, both for deaths directly attributable to COVID-19 infection and for deaths resulting from the national public health response.

Competing Interest Statement

The authors have declared no competing interest.

Clinical Trial

This is a study based on publicly available official government mortality data

Funding Statement

No external funding was received for this study

Author Declarations

I confirm all relevant ethical guidelines have been followed, and any necessary IRB and/or ethics committee approvals have been obtained.


The details of the IRB/oversight body that provided approval or exemption for the research described are given below:

This study is based on publicly available official government mortality statistics and hence did not require specific ethics approval.

All necessary patient/participant consent has been obtained and the appropriate institutional forms have been archived.


I understand that all clinical trials and any other prospective interventional studies must be registered with an ICMJE-approved registry, such as ClinicalTrials.gov. I confirm that any such study reported in the manuscript has been registered and the trial registration ID is provided (note: if posting a prospective study registered retrospectively, please provide a statement in the trial ID field explaining why the study was not registered in advance).


I have followed all appropriate research reporting guidelines and uploaded the relevant EQUATOR Network research reporting checklist(s) and other pertinent material as supplementary files, if applicable.


Evangelos Kontopantelis 
Mamas A Mamas
John Deanfield

Miqdad AsariaTim Doran
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