Because of a large number of deaths in the first year, pandemic-related mortality rates in the UK increased by more than 5% on average each year.
That was over the increment found in France, Spain or Germany, however underneath Italy and essentially lower than the US.
Comparing death rates across countries
The UK was experiencing one of the world’s worst waves of Covid deaths in April and May 2020.
However, England’s chief medical officer, Prof. Sir Chris Whitty, cautioned against making international comparisons of Covid deaths too early in the pandemic.
Instead, since they do not depend on what a nation considers a Covid death, he suggested looking at deaths for any reason.
Additionally, he stated that analyses ought to take into consideration the age profile of each nation, which has the potential to explain numerous variations in death rates.
We have compiled these figures into a database by collecting information from a variety of European, American, and New Zealand nations over the past eight years.
Sir Chris is about to give evidence for the first time in the UK’s long-awaited Covid inquiry.
Also, as the World Wellbeing Association has proclaimed a finish to the worldwide wellbeing crisis, we have glanced back at three years of pandemic passings, beginning in Walk 2020.
By comparing countries’ death rates to those five years prior to the pandemic, we were able to compare countries.
The UK’s death rates increased by more than 5% over the three years ending in February 2023, surpassing those of France, Germany, and Spain (all of which increased between 3% and 4.5%) but falling short of Italy’s (which increased by more than 6%).
Death rates were more than 10% higher than they were prior to the pandemic in the United States and Eastern European countries like Poland over the three years to February 2023.
In contrast, death rates decreased in Sweden, Norway, and New Zealand, which successfully contained the virus prior to the launch of its vaccination program.
For each nation, the figures for each year tell a different story.
They talk about early setbacks for the UK followed by a big win in 2022.
How do the UK’s deaths compare each year?
In the first year of the pandemic, the UK was one of the worst-hit nations, with death rates 15% higher than before the outbreak began.
A huge number of people died as a result of a terrible first wave and the rapid spread of the alpha (or Kent) variant just as the vaccine was being distributed.
Poland, for example, escaped the spring wave of 2020, but the number of deaths in the winter of 2020-21 surpassed that of the United Kingdom.
Throughout the summer of 2020, the death rate in the United States continued to rise steadily, surpassing that of the United Kingdom by the end of the year.
In the second year of the pandemic, as vaccine programs began, death rates fell in many European nations.
Prof. Devi Sridhar of the University of Edinburgh claims that the UK’s vaccination program is regarded as a “global exemplar.”
Not only was that the number of doses, but it was also getting them to the most vulnerable individuals.
In that second year, the UK outperformed every major European economy except Spain, with death rates below historical norms.
As more countries opened their borders, death rates increased in many of them in the third year.
Countries like Germany, New Zealand, and Norway, which had done better in the first two years of the pandemic (and overall), saw some of the largest rebounds.
In the first year of the pandemic, Norway had significantly fewer deaths than Sweden, but after three years, the two countries appear to have become more comparable.
Prof. Sridhar warns that “we’d never look like either Sweden or Norway” and that Scandinavian nations are “healthier, wealthier, and more equal” than the UK. It is difficult to read straight across from Scandinavian nations to the UK.
Lessons for the UK
To decipher the effect of all possible causes of every nation’s pandemic outcomes, it would take many inquiries: preparedness, the health of the population, the timing and severity of lockdowns, social support, the distribution of vaccines and health care, and other factors.
However, there are those who argue that there are lessons for the UK that must be learned prior to considering potential pandemics in the future.
According to Veena Raleigh of the King’s Fund, a health think tank, the UK’s high pandemic death toll “built on a decade of lacklustre performance on life expectancy.” She argues that “never been more urgent” for the government to take action to transform population health.
Eurostat, the Office for National Statistics, the National Records of Scotland, the Northern Ireland Statistics Research Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States Census Bureau, and Stats NZ provided us with estimates and projections of the population as well as data on deaths in five-year age groups.
Using the European Standard Population from 2013, we combined the death rates for each age group to produce an age-adjusted death rate.
There were some nations that did not have all of the age ranges. For instance, the figures from the United States divided people into 10-year age groups ranging from five to 24 and over 55. Excess mortality rates, such as those we calculated, can be exaggerated by a percentage point across larger age groups.