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What’s behind the mystery of thousands of excess deaths this summer? | Devi Sridhar

The real reason is as mundane, and tragic, as an underfunded NHS still struggling with the terrible effects of Covid

Over the past couple of months, deaths in England and Wales have been higher than would be expected for a typical summer. In July and August, there were several weeks with deaths 10% to 13% above the five-year average, meaning that in England about 900 extra people a week were dying compared with the past few years.

The leading causes of death are within the typical range (the five-year average): heart and lung diseases, cancers, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Covid-19 deaths could account for half of the excess mortality, but the other half is puzzling, as there’s no one clear reason that jumps out.

Devi Sridhar is chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh

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