A fall in death rates doesn’t prove Covid-19 isn’t killing anyone

16 July 2021
What was claimed

Death rates are lower than previous years which proves Covid-19 hasn’t killed or is killing anyone.

Our verdict

While death rates in England have fallen to their lowest levels since 2001, Covid-19 caused one of the biggest spikes in death rates of the past 20 years. Although rates have dropped since last year, people are still dying from Covid-19.

A Facebook post shows a meme of actor John Krasinski in TV show The Office sitting next to a white board with edited text which states that death rates are the same level as previous years therefore proving there is “nothing new killing people”.

Other text accompanying the image adds “Actually lower”.

Firstly, it’s true that death rates are lower than previous years, at least in England and Wales.

To measure this we can use the age-standardised mortality rate which is the number of deaths per 100,000 people, adjusted to even out the changing age structure of the country over time.

As of May 2021, the rate is at its lowest since records began in 2001. Mortality rates have been broadly declining since 2001.

However, the Facebook post seems to be suggesting that lower death rates indicate that Covid-19 is not killing anyone or perhaps that it does not exist.

Using the same data we can see the age-standardised mortality rate in May 2020 (near the peak of the pandemic in England) was at its highest level for both men and women since 2007.

Looking back further to April 2020, mortality rates were then at their highest since the Office for National Statistics’ mortality records began.

While deaths are lower now compared to the same time last year, owed in part to the vaccination programme, people are still dying from Covid-19.  Hundreds of people are also still being infected and hospitalised every day.

We’ve fact checked similar claims before.

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 while death rates are now at their lowest since 2001, Covid-19 caused the biggest spike in death rates of the past 20 years. People are also still dying from the disease

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