The ONS has not said only 6,183 people have died of Covid-19

27 January 2022
What was claimed

The ONS has admitted only 6,183 people died of Covid-19.

Our verdict

False. This figure is the number of people in England and Wales who, up to the end of 2021, died of Covid-19 where only Covid-19 was listed on their death certificate. In most cases Covid-19 will lead to another disease or condition before death.

The Office for National Statistics has not “admitted” only 6,183 people died of Covid-19, as claimed by blog The Exposé.

This figure is the number of people in England and Wales who, up to the end of 2021, died of Covid-19 where only Covid-19 was listed on their death certificate, and they had no pre-existing conditions.

But in most cases, Covid-19 will itself cause another condition leading to death.

For example, official advice for doctors on how to fill out death certificates gives an example where Covid-19 led to interstitial pneumonitis (a type of lung disease), which led to death. 

This would be an example of someone dying “of Covid” but wouldn’t be counted under the definition used for the 6,183 figure. 

The ONS categorises deaths as “involving Covid-19” or “due to Covid-19”. Deaths involving Covid-19 include those where Covid-19 was listed on the death certificate in any capacity, but may not have been the specific cause of death. Deaths “due to” Covid-19 are those where Covid-19 was “either the only health condition mentioned on the death certificate, or it was the one that started the train of events leading to death.”

By the end of 2021, 140,831 deaths were registered in England and Wales which were due to Covid-19, with Covid-19 being listed as the sole or underlying cause of death. A further 18,404 deaths involved Covid-19 but were not due to Covid-19, as it was not the sole or underlying cause of death.

17,371 deaths

Another article on The Exposé notes that the ONS has also produced the figure of 17,371 in relation to Covid-19 deaths, asking “why the numbers are so different” and saying they contradict each other.

The figures do not contradict each other. They simply measure different things. 

Both measure the number of people who died of Covid-19 without any pre-existing conditions. 

But, while 17,371 is the number of those people for whom Covid-19 was the underlying or sole cause of death, 6,183 is a subset of this group for whom Covid-19 was the sole cause of death only.

A person, for example, with no pre-existing conditions, whose cause of death was listed as Covid-19 leading to interstitial pneumonitis would be counted in the 17,371 figure but not in the 6,183 figure. 

We’ve written more about the 17,371 figure, which has been widely used in a misleading manner to discredit the official death tolls reported during the pandemic. 

Image courtesy of Alberto Giuliani via Wikimedia Commons

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because 6,183 is the number of people in England and Wales whose death certificate only listed Covid-19, not the number who died “due to” Covid-19 which includes people where Covid-19 led to another condition which led to death.

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