In total, 1.5 million years of potential life have been lost following the deaths of 146,000 Covid victims, according to a sobering new analysis, a year after the UK’s national lockdown began.
Each virus victim lost an average of 10 years of life upon death, according to an analysis by the respected Health Foundation think tank.
Along with the deaths, health as a whole has been severely affected by millions of people awaiting NHS surgery, including tens of thousands of cancer patients. There are also fears of a mental health crisis and worsening inequalities that worsen the health of the poorest communities.
On Tuesday, the nation will take a break to mark 12 months since the start of the most serious crisis to hit Britain since World War II, and to remember the thousands of people whose deaths have been linked to the virus.
Dr Jennifer Dixon, Managing Director of the Health Foundation, described the impact of Covid on the UK as a ‘death bomb’, warning that its effects would be far-reaching on society and health. She also warned the government that failure to invest now for the long-term health of the nation would result in a “slowdown in the economy” and undermine the prime minister’s leveling program.
She added, “Ten years is a lot of Christmas you could have had with your parent or friend and I think it might help people realize that it affected younger people as well. ”
The Health Foundation has calculated that more years of life have been lost for men, 825,000 compared to 670,000 for women.
Although people in the poorest parts of England have a lower life expectancy, they were twice as likely to have died from Covid-19, meaning 45% more years of life were lost in the poorest 20% of the regions.
Compared to the flu, the Health Foundation said Covid has taken many more years to live. The flu claims 250,000 years, just one-sixth of the total loss due to Covid in the past 12 months.
In an interview with The independentDr Dixon warned that the pandemic would cast a long shadow across the UK in terms of direct and indirect effects on people’s health, mental health and broader determinants of health such as their jobs and their lives. housing.
She said, “I think if the upgrade means anything, it can’t just be a short-term infrastructure solution. It must also be a longer term social policy solution.
“Investing in the NHS is not a drain on resources. This is the basic platform on which we are launching a thriving Britain and without which it will be a drag on the economy, it will be a brake on cultural and social development, it will be a brake on productivity and to whatever we say we want. ”
Tuesday at noon there will be a minute of silence to remember the lives lost over the past 12 months.
Boris Johnson is expected to mark the event privately at Downing Street.
He said: “The past 12 months have cost us all a great deal and I offer my sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones. Today, the anniversary of the first lockdown, is an opportunity to reflect on the past year – one of the most difficult in the history of our country.
“We must also remember the great spirit manifested by our nation during this past year. We’ve all played our part, whether it’s working on the front line as a nurse or as a caregiver, working on vaccine development and supply, helping to hug this blow, teaching at home for your children or simply by staying at home to prevent the spread of the virus. virus.
“It’s because of every person in this country that lives were saved, our NHS was protected, and we started our cautious path to ease restrictions once and for all.”
More than 4 million Britons have tested positive for the virus, although the actual number may be considerably higher. The impact of the virus has brought the NHS to its knees, with tens of thousands of surgeries canceled across the UK and makeshift intensive care units set up to care for critically ill patients.
There are now more than 300,000 patients waiting for treatment for more than a year on the NHS waiting list for a record total of 4.7 million.
There were 5.9 million fewer referrals from general practitioners in 2020, raising fears about the deterioration of patients without treatment. The NHS Confederation has warned that if only two-thirds of these patients join the official waiting list, it could result in a list of 8 million people by fall 2021.
There are also fears for cancer patients, with charities warning that death rates could rise due to treatment delays. In January, there was an 11 percent drop in urgent referrals for cancer from general practitioners compared to a year earlier. In 2020, cancer charities estimated that 44,000 fewer people were treated for the disease.
Last week the government gave the NHS an additional £ 6.6 billion to meet the costs of the coronavirus.
The Bureau of National Statistics said Covid-19 caused more deaths in 2020 than other infectious diseases caused in a century.
Meanwhile, the cost of supporting the economy and running the holiday program has seen the UK spend more than £ 407 to combat the effects of the virus, pushing debt levels up to 98% of GDP – levels never seen since the 1960s.
Dame Donna Kinnair, Executive Director of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “After a year of sacrifice and gesture, big and small, we take our turn to thank the audience. In a time of loss and fear, they helped us keep digging deeper.
“We will take a day to remember and reflect – as much about the future we want as the year we have had.
Dr Susan Hopkins, Director of Covid-19 at Public Health England said: ‘This virus has not left anyone untouched and it has been the most difficult time both personally and professionally that many of us have ever experienced.
“I want to thank today all the public health professionals and key workers who have worked long and hard hours to help keep the country safe. The commitment you have shown is an inspiration to all of us. ”