More Than 2500 deaths in England Linked to 2020 Heatwaves

Dawn O'Shea

November 24, 2020

More than 2500 deaths occurred in England during summer 2020 as a result of heatwaves, suggest figures from Public Health England (PHE).

During summer 2020, there were three periods that met the PHE heatwave definition:

  • Episode 1: 23-27 June.

  • Episode 2: 30 July to 1 August.

  • Episode 3: 5-15 August.

A new PHE report estimates that the total cumulative all-cause excess mortality across the three episodes was 2556 (95% CI, 2139-2926), with 311 (95% CI, 126-446) excess deaths in the 0-64 years group and 2244 (95% CI, 1887-2606) excess deaths observed in the 65+ years group.

Statistically significant excesses were observed in all regions of England, except for the North East and the Yorkshire and Humber.

Cumulative excess all-cause mortality related to heatwaves in summer 2020 was the highest observed since the introduction of the Heatwave Plan for England. The report states that the severity and intensity of the heatwave alone does not fully explain the magnitude of the effects observed. PHE says further work is required to explore how the concurrent risk of COVID-19 and heatwaves may have intersected to amplify these effects.

Excess all-cause mortality was calculated by comparing the average number of all-cause deaths on heatwave days with the average from the preceding and subsequent seven non-heatwave days, having subtracting the estimated number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 on those days.

The number of COVID-19 deaths was taken from deaths reported either by Office for National Statistics (ONS) as COVID-19 on death certificate or a death for any reason within 60 days of a COVID-19-positive PCR test. The all-cause deaths data were obtained from the General Registry Office with the location of death according to the region of the office where registration occurred. Deaths were corrected for delays in registration.

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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