Official figures show there have been 59,359 excess deaths in the UK since mid-March
According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the week ending 15 May saw 14,573 deaths registered in England and Wales, which is 4,385 more than average for that week and worse than the 3,081 excess deaths recorded in the previous week.
With figures from Scotland and Northern Ireland included, the total number of excess deaths connected to COVID-19 in the UK reached 59,359 over the nine-week duration of coronavirus outbreak.
In an article written for COVER on 23 April, Ruth Gilbert assessed the potential impact of COVID-19 on life insurance claims. She said: "If we have over 50,000 extra deaths this year that would be about an extra 10%. If evenly spread across the age groups, that could mean an extra 3,500 death claims under term assurance cover paid by group and individual protection insurers. For whole of life cover, 121,822 claims were paid in 2018. If a similar number of policies are in force this year, that's an additional 12,200 claims to be expected."
The FT, using its coronavirus model, has suggested that the number of excess deaths likely to have been recorded since the pandemic began is more than 63,000.
The ONS has urged caution around the reporting of excess deaths for week ending 15 May, citing the fact offices were shut for VE Day as a potential reason for distortion. It also added that deaths occur on average four days before they are registered.
The FT reported that figures would show excess deaths reducing from a weekly peak of 11,854 in the week ending 17 April if it wasn't for the VE Day bank holiday.
40 years ago
Some analysis by Paul McGlone, partner at Aon, has compared ONS mortality rates (risk of death in a single year) over the past 40 years.
Referring to the chart below, which shows ONS mortality rates from 1980 to a projected figure for 2020 for five-year age bands from 60 to 90, he said: "I've then added actual mortality rate for 2020 year to date. It's based on ONS deaths to week 20 (15 May), but adjusted to be an annual rate. Basically, if we continue to see deaths for the rest of 2020 at the same rate we've seen so far, this is the estimated overall mortality rate."
He explained that while the increase in mortality rates due to COVID-19 is "awful", it's not long ago that UK mortality rates were much higher than the current level.
He said: "What surprised me was that even with the astonishing number of deaths we've seen, and even if it continued for the rest of 2020, the mortality rate for 2020 would not be that different to what it was in 2010, and still much better than in 2000."