Study suggests excess death toll in care homes from Covid-19 has been hugely underestimated

An early draft of a study from the University of Manchester suggests there may have 10,000 more deaths of care homes residents than previously reported.  The study compares statistical data on deaths in care homes between January 2017 and February 2020 with data from April to August 2020. 

This study has not yet been peer reviewed, but notes that of the excess deaths, 65% were only directly attributed to Covid-19.  That leaves the remaining 35% (10,000 deaths) that were not officially attributed to Covid-19.  The question is what caused those excess 10,000 deaths. 

Part of the problem in considering deaths in the early stage of the pandemic is due to the lack of testing provision at this time.  Care home residents would often become ill with symptoms that were associated with Covid-19 but there was no way of definitively confirming that they had the virus.  In addition, the role of asymptomatic Covid-19 and atypical symptoms was less widely known at the time.  It could be that deaths occurred without knowing whether Covid-19 had played a role in the death. 

It is unclear also for example whether such deaths might have occurred as an indirect effect of the national lockdown, for example not being able to access primary care services in a timely manner. 

In terms of what this means for the claims market, it may be that a death of a care home resident is not obviously linked to Covid-19 on first glance, but this may become apparent on investigation. If this death occurred after a Covid-19 PL exclusion clause was applied then the care home may not have the support of insurance cover.

However it is envisaged that the majority of deaths would have taken place during the early stages of the pandemic and for some care providers before PL exclusion clauses were applied but not all.  

A copy of the press release on the study can be found here 

Written by Jennifer Johnston at BLM

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