Visualising the 125,000 lives lost to COVID-19 in the U.K.

by Luke Masters , Fabiana Plat , and Erin Yurday - March 10, 2021

In one year, the COVID-19 virus has killed 125,000 people in the U.K.—with actual figures of deaths related to the coronavirus even higher. The tally means a U.K. coronavirus death has happened every 4.2 minutes on average. It’s also the equivalent of wiping out a small town or city such as Cambridge, Exeter or Gloucester. Assuming there are 170 seats on an Airbus A320, it also means we've lost 735 plane loads full of people—that's two every day on average over the past year.

The number of fatalities from COVID-19 in the UK is hard to imagine. What does 125,000 really mean? As a coping mechanism, the human brain is not wired to make sense of a large death toll. But it's important to avoid apathy and remain vigilant, especially as we come out of lock down. Here are some ways to visualise what the loss of so many lives looks like.

Trying to imagine 125,000 COVID-19 deaths

Here are five ways to visualise the coronavirus death toll in the U.K.

It's equivalent to stadiums full of football fans.

Wembley Stadium holds 90,000 fans and is the second largest stadium in Europe. Leicester City's King Power Stadium has a capacity of 32,273. Together these two stadiums cannot even hold 125,000 people.

Graphic illustrating UK COVID-19 deaths 1

How long would a train stretch that was carrying 125,000 passengers?

Assuming a Voyager train car has a capacity of 70 passengers, it would take 1,786 trains to hold 125,000 people.

Given a carriage length of 22.82 metres, 1,786 trains would stretch a distance of 25.32 miles (or 40.75 km), like one long train reaching from King's Cross St Pancras to Luton Airport. To give a sense of this distance, the journey between these two stations takes 42 minutes on average.

Graphic illustrating UK COVID-19 deaths 1

COVID-19 has wiped out an entire city worth of people.

The UK COVID-19 death toll is as if we've lost the entire population of a small town or city. For example, 125,000 is larger than the population of Cambridge. It's also more people than live in Exeter or Gloucester.

Graphic illustrating UK COVID-19 deaths 1

Imagine if we had no more dentists, flight attendants or pre-school teachers.

The U.K. has lost more people to COVID-19 than we have dentists. Or flight attendants (pre-coronavirus) or pre-school teachers.

Graphic illustrating UK COVID-19 deaths 1

How far would a socially-distanced walking caravan of 125,000 people stretch?

Assuming people were spaced 2 metres apart, a walking caravan representing the people who have died of COVID-19 would stretch over 155 miles, the distance from Oxford to Manchester Airport. That distance takes 2.5 hours by car and would take 44 hours on foot.

Graphic illustrating UK COVID-19 deaths 1

These figures reflect coronavirus deaths of people who had a positive test result for COVID-19 and died within 28 days of their first positive test. The figures do not reflect the additional deaths (close to 20,000) of people whose death certificate mentioned COVID-19 as one of the causes, but died more than 28 days after their first positive test.