UK’s wider Covid-19 death toll passes 180,000

Pallbearers from W. Uden & Sons Family Funeral Directors bow their heads to a coffin during a funeral service in Bromley, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in south east London, Britain, January 28, 2021. Picture taken January 28, 2021. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

More than 180,000 people in the UK have had Covid-19 recorded on their death certificate since the pandemic began, new figures show.

A total of 180,662 deaths involving coronavirus have now been registered in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This includes all instances where Covid-19 has been mentioned on someone’s death certificate, either as a main cause of death or a contributory factor.

The ONS figures provide the fullest picture so far of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the population.

The 180,662 includes all deaths that had occurred in the UK up to January 21 and which had been registered by January 29.

The figure is lower than the Government’s preferred death toll, which counts only people who have died within 28 days of testing positive, and which stood at 154,286 on January 21.

(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)

Because the Government’s narrower count is limited to people who died within 28 days of a positive test, it is likely to have missed a number of deaths linked to coronavirus – particularly during the first wave of the virus in spring 2020, when only a small amount of people were being tested for Covid-19, mostly in hospitals and care homes.

Around nine in 10 deaths with Covid-19 on the death certificate since the start of the pandemic have coronavirus as the primary cause of death, with a minority listing the virus as a contributory factor.

It is just over two years since the UK’s first known death involving coronavirus.

Peter Attwood, 84, from Chatham in Kent died in hospital on January 30 2020 – though Covid-19 was not formally recorded on his death certificate until the end of August that year.

The cumulative number of deaths involving coronavirus passed 50,000 on May 22 2020, reached 100,000 on January 6 2021 and 150,000 on March 8 2021.

By contrast, the number of deaths based on the narrower count did not reach 50,000 until November 7 2020, passed 100,000 on January 22 2021 and only reached 150,000 on January 5 this year – around 10 months after the equivalent figure for the wider death count.