The second wave of deaths

April 20, 2020 • Reading time 2 minutes

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Published 21 April 2020

Cumulative deaths in the UK due to Covid-19 were reported at 17,337 today. These are directly attributed to Covid-19, although we may wonder how many more happened that are not included in this headline figure.

These are the first wave of deaths from Covid-19.

The second wave is coming from non-Covid-19 deaths, which appear to be due to people not accessing health care. 

The chart shows new ONS data on excess deaths that are attributed to Covid-19 and also those that are not – 18,600 in total as of the 21st of April. It also shows trends in A&E attendances in England, which have dropped substantially. 

If projected forwards, these numbers get so large it is hard to relate to them on a personal level. A guesstimate statistic that makes it more real for me is that in an average lifetime we each encounter around 20,000 people.

Then there will be the third wave of deaths. These are the people who have not yet been diagnosed or necessarily needed treatment. Cancer cases, people with raised blood pressure, etc. Unlike the current peaks, these may be spread out over a longer period of time. But make no mistake this could be the deadliest wave of all.

Hopefully the third wave will be small and the last of the set, although that will depend on how lockdown ends and how the NHS manages unmet need. Returning to the growing waiting lists we had pre-Covid-19 will not be good enough.


Edge Health are a specialist UK healthcare analytics consultancy that use data and insights to improve the delivery of health and care services, so that better outcomes can be delivered more efficiently.