The King’s Fund responds to latest Office for National Statistics deaths data

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Responding to the latest Office for National Statistics data on deaths in England and Wales in the week ending 25 December, Veena Raleigh, Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund said:

‘There is no doubt that 2020 was a terrible year, with almost 78,000 more deaths in England and Wales since the start of the pandemic in March compared with the preceding five-year average. The UK has already experienced amongst the highest excess mortality rates among European countries, and deaths are unfortunately continuing to rise inexorably this month.

‘With the new coronavirus variant driving rapidly rising infection rates throughout December, and the impact of the relaxation of rules over Christmas still to be added to these figures, we will sadly continue to see the deadly consequences of the rapid spread of the virus over the coming weeks.

‘It is impossible to quantify the impacts of individual factors on the spread of the virus, but the failure to respond more quickly, even if it meant making unwelcome decisions, has undoubtedly been a contributor . The roll out of vaccinations will help in reducing the death toll but the virus will remain a deadly threat for months to come. The pandemic is far from over, and the government needs to learn urgently from the consequences of its previous responses to the crisis, and from other countries that have seen significantly lower death tolls.’

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The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.