The importance of understanding COVID-19 numbers

Read Natasha Hill's latest blog

We have seen in the news today that Public Health England (PHE) has revised its method of reporting COVID-19 deaths, so that a death is now only reported as COVID-19 if a positive test had been recorded within the preceding 28 days. This has resulted in the total number of reported COVID-19 deaths in England dropping by around 5,000.

Unfortunately this does not mean that there have been fewer deaths overall, just fewer attributed to COVID-19. Our XPS COVID-19 Tracker predominantly uses data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to track all deaths in 2020 and is not affected by this change in reporting. The ONS uses data from death certificates to attribute causes of deaths, which is more reliable than the PHE data.

What is interesting to consider, at this stage in the pandemic, is how the total deaths compare to last year, which can be seen from the Tracker. Some good news is that since around the beginning of June, total deaths have been below those in the equivalent week of 2019, even when allowing for the COVID-19 deaths.

With so much information and so many statistics being published around COVID-19 it remains important for trustees and employers to understand the impact on their own specific schemes. The demographic and economic impacts will vary dramatically from scheme to scheme and getting the analysis right should be a priority.

To view our XPS COVID-19 Impact Analytics and videos, click here