Covid-19 Statistics (England & Wales)
Men are considerably more likely to die from Covid-19 than women - twice as likely according to the age-standardised figures.
The UK is beginning to get better at counting the number of cases of Covid-19 but without routine testing or tracing, many people with or without symptoms will not show up in official data. (The data we do have on testing is here.) Indeed, the government has struggled to count tests accurately and only offers tests to those with symptoms. (The data on test and trace is here.)
We can be more precise about deaths from the virus. Although even here, the government struggles with the numbers and its definition of death. Currently, despite requests from the Forum, the daily data published by the government is not routinely broken down by gender. However, the England and Wales statistics from the ONS, the UK's statistics authority, which appear several days later are and that's what we've used here. The numbers are considerably higher than the government's daily totals as ONS offical data is based on death certificates not the random timing of a Covid-19 test. (We also have stats for Scotland, England's regions and international.)
Deaths are increasing significantly again. The week ending 15 January 2021 was the week in which the death toll for England and Wales on these figures passed 90,000. (In March, the UK's chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance said 20,000 deaths would be a ‘good outcome’ of the Covid-19 outbreak.) The total number of male deaths passed 50,000 in the same week including well over 6,000 under 65.
Data from critical care units suggest that 3/4 of the Covid-19 patients who die in intensive care are men. (Read our article: The figures that prove Covid-19 is not 'just like the flu'.) The percentage is lower in the ONS statistics we present here because the daily data is made up almost entirely of deaths in hospital whereas the ONS data includes all deaths including when the patient never went to hospital - for example, deaths in nursing homes.
Proportionately fewer men are dying in the second wave than the first but nonetheless men make up nearly 2/3 (61%) of Covid-19 deaths in people under 85. In the age group 85+, there are nearly twice as many women as men - the legacy of poor men's health in general - and this is the only age group in which most Covid-19 deaths are female.
Have more people died than offical statistics show?
Probably. It is likely that the ONS figures still seriously underestimate Covid-19 deaths. The Excess Deaths table below shows deaths above the usual five year average for the week in question: a + figure means there were more deaths than usual in that week and a - (minus) figure that there were fewer. Excess deaths are beginning to increase again and indeed, the Covid pandemic has caused excess deaths to rise to their highest level since World War Two. (The excess deaths for 2021 exclude 2020 - in other words figures are compared to the average of 2015-209.)
A further caveat to bear in mind with the ONS figures is that they are based on the date the death was registered, not when it occurred. There is usually a delay of at least five days between occurrence and registration - a significant period in a pandemic like Covid-19.
Has Covid-19 been around longer than we think?
Maybe but reports suggesting many millions have had the virus may not be accurate. The excess deaths figures paint a confusing picture. In fact, from mid-January to mid-March 2020, there were actually fewer deaths than usual suggesting that if Covid-19 was around it wasn't taking lives on any scale. On the other hand, the back of 2019 saw considerable excess deaths - 5,109 in the last quarter of the year.
- Radio 4 stats podcast More Or Less: Why Did the UK Have Such a Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?
The ONS’s age-standardised data for England and Wales confirms that men are twice as likely to die of Covid-19 as women. The male age standardised mortality rate (ASMR) is 50.6 per 100,000 population while the female ASMR is 25.5.
Age-standardised data allows populations with different age profiles to be compared. There are, for example, more older women than men. Age-standardised data takes this into account.
The ASMR data also shows that poverty and deprivation is a key factor. Men in the most deprived 10% of the population are more than twice as likely to die as men in the least deprived 10% but they are four and half times more likely to die than a women in least deprived 10%. Indeed, as the chart shows, the death rate for the most deprived 10% of women (39.6) is not far off the death rate of the least deprived 10& of men (35.9).
Deaths by Occupation
Lower-skilled jobs that cannot be done from home and require more contact with others tend to be at higher risk.
It’s tough for men to ask for help but if you don’t ask when you need it, things generally only get worse. Especially during a major pandemic like Covid-19. So we’re asking.
Men appear more likely to get Covid-19 and far, far more likely to die from it. The Men's Health Forum are working hard pushing for more action on this from government, from health professionals and from all of us. Why are men more affected and what can we do about it? We need the data. We need the research. We need the action. Currently we're the only UK charity doing this - please help us.
Here’s our fund-raising page - please chip in if you can.