Despite data showing more people are abstaining from alcohol in England during the pandemic, figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows alcohol-specific deaths rose during the first nine months of 2020.

There were 5,460 deaths related to alcohol-specific causes, such as liver disease, during the first three quarters of 2020 (from January to September). This marked a 16.4% increase on the same period in 2019.

Alcohol-specific deaths reached the highest peak since data collection began in 2001. Deaths reached 12.8 per 100,000 people from January to March 2020, equating to 1,810 deaths. The mortality rate remained at this level in the following two quarters, with 1,811 deaths registered from April to June, and 1,839 registered from July to September.

ONS said the first quarter of 2020 was statistically similar to rates in previous years. However, rates in the second and third quarters were ‘significantly higher than in any other year back to 2001’.

Ben Humberstone, deputy director of health analysis and life events at the ONS, said: “Today’s data shows that in the first three quarters of 2020, alcohol-specific deaths in England and Wales reached the highest level since the beginning of our data series, with April to September, during and after the first lockdown, seeing higher rates compared to the same period in previous years.

“The reasons for this are complex and it will take time before the impact of the pandemic has had alcohol-specific deaths is fully understood.”

Data is ‘complex’

The Portman Group, the social responsibility and regulatory body for the UK, further highlighted how most adults in the UK drink within the government’s recommended guidelines.

In August last year, a YouGov poll commissioned by the Portman Group, found one in four drinkers had reduced their alcohol consumption during lockdown, while 7% had stopped drinking entirely.

Matt Lambert, CEO of the Portman Group, said: “The data around the levels of harmful drinking within the UK are complex, particularly during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

“The majority of people in the UK continue to drink responsibly, with four in five drinking within the government lower-risk guidelines of 14 units per week or not at all, and recent reports highlight that the majority of people continued to drink responsibly during lockdown.

“We need to see more targeted measures which address unsafe levels of drinking and support those who are vulnerable to access the right treatment and support, particularly during lockdown.”

In December, IWSR Drinks Market Analysis reported that alcohol consumption has decreased in most markets during the pandemic, except for in the US and Canada.
Via News – The Spirits Business
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