As we face potential future waves of COVID-19, we must urgently understand how the UK differs from its neighbours and why Health Foundation response to Office for National Statistics data comparing all-cause mortality between European countries and regions (January to June 2020)

30 July 2020

Commenting on today’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) data, Comparisons of all-cause mortality between European countries and regions (January to June 2020), Charles Tallack, Assistant Director for the REAL Centre at the Health Foundation, said:

'Today's data confirms the huge and deadly toll that COVID-19 has taken on the UK, with England having seen the highest levels of excess deaths of any country in Europe since the start of the pandemic. There could be multiple reasons for the scale of the tragedy, such as the timing of the lockdown or how far the virus spread across the country. Every region of the UK saw higher than normal excess deaths, whereas in countries like Italy and France, the impact of COVID-19 was more concentrated in specific areas, with several regions not seeing higher than normal excess deaths.

'The ONS findings also show that, although over 65s everywhere were most impacted by the pandemic, under 65s in England have been the hardest hit compared to under 65s in other European countries. This raises questions about whether under 65s in England were at higher relative risk. Factors such as differences in population health, including obesity and underlying health conditions, or differences in health care provision could be involved.

'As we face the potential of a second wave, we must urgently understand not just how the UK differs from its neighbours, but also why. Other areas for investigation should include what proportion of the population were infected before lockdown began, whether lockdown measures were introduced quickly enough, and how effective lockdown has been in preventing the spread of the virus through the population. And finally, we need to understand the impact of prioritising COVID-19 patients and how this has affected health care for non-COVID-19 patients.'

Media contact

Simon Perry
External Affairs Manager (Media)
020 7257 2093

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