Indirect Mortality Report
Tonight, we launched our report into Indirect Mortality that is a consequence of the pandemic and the handling of the pandemic. A video of the launch event will follow shortly.
Huge thanks go out to all of the authors of this report and to the Shadow Health Minister Jon Ashworth MP and Lord Jon Medelsohn who launched this report on our behalf.
Excess mortality data shows that for every 100 excess deaths in England and Wales attributed to COVID-19, a further 19 deaths have occurred without being associated with the pandemic.
The UK has had one of the worst outbreaks of COVID-19 in the world and is currently facing a second wave of infections, with cases climbing to the highest numbers seen so far. But as the nation adapts new lockdown restrictions, we need to look beyond the obvious impact of COVID-19 and assess what indirect impact the pandemic has had on our health and is likely to have in the future.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a wide-reaching immediate impact that has affected all parts of society, healthcare and economy. Health services, in particular, struggled to take on the additional burden of a pandemic using resources that were already stretched. Routine procedures and referrals have suffered and, in turn, so have patients. While the shut-down of routine healthcare will make its effects known in the short-term for more acute conditions, excess mortality for other conditions, such as cancer, could accumulate for several years. The mental health effects of the pandemic could also take some time to manifest and some time to resolve. Vulnerable and deprived populations have already been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic; against a backdrop in which health inequalities were already increasing in the UK, there is a risk that health inequalities will be further exacerbated by COVID-19 and its economic impact.
Globally, the direct burden of disease from COVID-19 will be huge by any metric, but the indirect burdens are likely to be even larger and be noticeable for many years to come. High, middle and low-income countries will all be affected, with inequalities likely to be exacerbated in each setting. In low- and lower-middle income countries (LMICs), people will die directly from COVID-19, but also indirectly due to factors such as reduced access to basic healthcare and mass drug administration, cessation of vaccination programmes, and malnourishment resulting from increased economic hardship.
We have navigated the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and are adjusting to a “new normal.” We now have the opportunity to take stock not just of the direct effects of the pandemic thus far, but also of its indirect effects, some of which may be long-lived. Only by identifying the pandemic’s likely indirect effects can we seize the opportunity to mitigate them.