Stark numbers show true impact of Covid-19 across Merseyside

Stark new data has highlighted the staggering impact coronavirus has had on all the areas of Merseyside.

These new models – made exclusively for the Liverpool Echo by specialist data firm Urbix – gives us the first insight on just how much tragedy has been experienced in each of our boroughs during this crisis.

Collated using Office for National Statistic data, it suggests that the reported number of deaths from Covid-19 does not tell the full picture of what has been happening here.

It shows that there have been thousands of "excess deaths" across the region during the crisis that have not been recorded as stemming from the virus.

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The method

When carrying out its analysis, Urbix looked at the official recorded and announced Covid-19 death count for all boroughs of the region from January 2015 until the end of April 2020 and plotted the average death toll per month for the years 2015 to 2019 – these are the black lines on the graphs.

For 2020 it plotted all deaths, shown in green, and only Covid-19 registered deaths, shown in red.


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This graph shows the average deaths, Covid-19 deaths and excess deaths for Merseyside

Looking at Merseyside as a whole, the area recorded 3,729 deaths in April and has had a 5-year average for April of 1,249 deaths.

So one would reasonably expect to have seen approximately 2,480 deaths from Covid-19.

There have however only been 1,068 Covid-19 deaths reported.

This leaves an excess of 1,412 deaths in Merseyside over and above the 5-year average for April and April’s Covid-19 toll combined.

In percentage terms, Covid-19 only accounts for 43.1% of the excess death toll for April in Merseyside.

So there are questions about where the other 56.9% of deaths have come from – are they unreported Covid-19 deaths or from other causes?

Benji Silverstone, CEO and founder of Urbix, said: "Our team have looked at huge amounts of Covid-19 data with the aim of helping decision makers and concerned citizens develop a deeper and clearer understanding of how this virus affects us. The data that we used for this study came from the Office of National Statistics and the number of 'unexplained' excess deaths is a worrying factor.

"Until now this has only been looked at on a national and regional level. We are looking at it on a city and town level. The importance of doing this cannot be overstated. Local decision makers can only tackle the issues if they know how their individual area is exhibiting."


This graph shows the average deaths, Covid-19 deaths and excess deaths for Liverpool

We already know that Liverpool has suffered greatly in terms of official recorded coronavirus deaths – but what about those that haven't been attributed to the virus during this period?

As the graph shows, there were 1,318 deaths in the city in April 2020.

Of these deaths, 413 have been recorded as Covid-19 deaths, while the average for this time in a normal year would be 366 deaths.

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This means there is a difference between the actual number of April 2020 deaths and the figure you get when you add the average deaths for this time of year to those that have been recorded as Covid deaths.

It means there have been an extra 539 "excess deaths".

Covid-19 only accounts for 43.1% of the excess death count in Liverpool in April. Where did the other 56.9% come from?


This graph shows the average deaths, Covid-19 deaths and excess deaths for Wirral

Wirral was the first Merseyside borough to experience coronavirus and has also been hit hard by its impact.

The data shows that in April 2020 there were 888 recorded deaths on the Peninsular.

But only 264 of those have been reported as Covid-19 deaths.

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The average number of people dying in this time in previous years is 318.

Once again there is a high number of excess deaths, 306 to be exact, that are classed as "excess".

Covid-19 only accounts for 46.3% of the excess death count in Wirral in April.


This graph shows the average deaths, Covid-19 deaths and excess deaths for Sefton

There were 774 deaths in the Sefton borough during April 2020.

Just 193 of these have been officially recorded as resulting from Covid-19.

When you factor in an average April death count of 306 – it means there were 275 extra deaths in the borough in April.

So coronavirus accounts for just 42.5% of the excess death count in Sefton in April.

St Helens

This graph shows the average deaths, Covid-19 deaths and excess deaths for St Helens

In April, 433 people died in St Helens.

Just 115 of these fatalities have been registered as Covid-19 deaths.

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The borough has an average death count of 158 for this month – meaning there are a further unexplained 160 excess deaths.

Covid-19 only accounts for 41.8% of the excess death count in St. Helens in April.


This graph shows the average deaths, Covid-19 deaths and excess deaths for Knowsley

There were 316 deaths recorded in Knowsley in April – but just 84 of those have been recorded as Covid-19 deaths.

With an average of 100 deaths for April, it means there are were a further 132 excess deaths in the borough in the month.

Covid-19 only accounts for 38.9% of the excess death count in Knowsley in April.

Urbix is a data analysis and software development company based in Manchester.