Hundreds more people died in Northamptonshire during Covid-19 pandemic than in normal years, according to Public Health England

'Pandemic has taken a toll of life that is unprecedented,' says expert

Doctors believe 12 percent of all deaths in Northamptonshire during 2021 were linked to Covid-19, according to official figures.

And the data suggests hundreds more people have sadly died in the county during the pandemic than would have happened in normal years.

Public Health England compares the number of deaths registered with how many were predicted based on previous mortality rates to calculate the number of excess deaths in an area.

Crosses outside Kettering General Hospital remember those who died during the pandemic

Northamptonshire was predicted to see 6,666 deaths from any cause during 2021, based on estimates for 2015-19. In fact, 6,998 were recorded last year — 332 more.

Of those who sadly died in the county last year, 837 had Covid-19 on the death certificate.

In 2020, there were 864 excess deaths in the area although figures for that year only began at the end of March.

Excess deaths are considered a better measure of the overall impact of Covid-19 than simply looking at mortality directly linked to the virus, as they capture deaths that may have been indirectly caused by the crisis.

Since the pandemic began in March 2020, 115,600 excess deaths have been recorded across England causing a greater fall in life expectancy than anything seen since the Second World War, according to think tank the King’s Fund.

However, last year saw 43,300 excess deaths, which was down from 72,300 in 2020.

Veena Raleigh, senior fellow at the King's Fund, said: “Covid-19 has struck in waves and its future course is uncertain.

"However, although the pandemic has taken a toll of life that is unprecedented in recent years, the signs are that it is abating.

"Many factors will have contributed to this – the vaccination programme in particular."

She added that some areas have suffered a greater loss of life than others, which is reflective of the "disproportionate impact" of coronavirus on deprived areas and people from ethnic minority groups.

North Somerset, in the South West, saw fewer deaths in 2021 than were expected but was the only part of the country to do so. Newham, in London, recorded 28 percent more.

The Nuffield Trust believes lockdown measures reduced cases of flu and other illnesses, which could be why the number of excess deaths nationally was lower than the number of Covid deaths in 2021.

And Sarah Scobie, deputy director of research at the organisation, said some patients who died from Covid may have subsequently died from a different cause instead if they had survived.

She added: "As the vaccination programme has rolled out, the number of Covid deaths has reduced, despite high numbers of cases.

"The huge toll of Covid should not be underestimated, though. There have still been hundreds of excess deaths recorded every week since July 3 2021.”

Public Health England was responsible for protecting and improving health and wellbeing until it was replaced by the UK Health Security Agency earlier this month.

It says the deadliest time of the year in England came over three weeks in January and February when there were around 5,000 excess deaths each week.

In Northamptonshire, the highest weekly excess death total came in the seven days to February 12 when the area recorded 91 excess deaths.