Welsh Government ’s Chief Statistician’s Glyn Jones published an update on how does COVID-19 mortality in Wales compare with the rest of the UK, and also how does it vary within Wales?
Here I have compiled extracts from Glyn Jones’s blog
The data comes from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which was published last Friday (June 12) and is based on death registrations, being the most comprehensive set of information on mortality. It is also the most in-depth analysis of what is happening during this Covid-19 pandemic across Wales.
The first key point was that mortality in Wales is amongst the lowest in the UK countries and the English regions.
In the ONS article looking at mortality across the UK in March and April 2020, the data show that in general mortality in Wales did not increase as much as a result of the pandemic compared with England and Scotland and that the virus has been responsible for a smaller share of deaths than England.
The article showed that in March and April, Wales saw a relatively lower rate of COVID-19 related deaths per head of the population than England and Scotland. They also showed a similar pattern for deaths from all causes.
In addition, deaths in Wales were also less likely to be COVID-19 related (22% of deaths) compared with the UK average (26%).
There have been ‘excess’ deaths in Wales over the course of the pandemic – that is more deaths than usual at this time of year. It is estimated that around 1,450 more deaths occurred in Wales in March and April than the 5 year average for this time of year, (and nearly 2,200 by June 5 according to the latest ONS weekly deaths bulletin). This was 25% more deaths, lower than England (46%) and Scotland (37%).
It is a similar story when compared with the regions of England. The figure for Wales is similar to the East Midlands, East of England and South East, and otherwise higher only than the South West.
The reasons for the different patterns across the UK are not clear at this stage of the pandemic – one can only speculate – but when the final analysis is made there will probably be a relationship with a number of factors, including age, socio-economic characteristics, ethnicity, deprivation, housing, obesity and pre-existing underlying health conditions.
The second key point was that mortality varies across Wales, and is highest in South Wales
ONS also published an article on Friday presenting the latest position on mortality across local health boards and local authorities and the data is based on where a person lived and again also uses age-standardised rates to account for demographic factors.
At the local authority level, there was considerable variation within Wales. In general, the highest rates were in south Wales with the lowest being in Ceredigion.
At the health board level, the lowest mortality rates were seen in Hywel Dda; rates in Powys and Betsi Cadwaladr were also below the Wales average. Mortality rates in Cardiff & Vale and Cwm Taf Morgannwg were highest.
But there is also variation within a health board area. Within Betsi Cadwaladr, for example, mortality rates are highest in the North East (Denbighshire, Flintshire, and Wrexham) and lowest in the Isle of Anglesey.
The ONS data is broken down by month and therefore also allows us to see how the pandemic has differed in nature across Wales. The highest rates on a monthly basis were seen in South Wales in April, but in May some of the local authorities in North Wales have the highest age-standardised rates. Whilst the rates for South Wales declined in May, the mortality rates in North Wales authorities were more stable.