Weekly Covid deaths hit their highest level since April, official figures revealed today as wave three continues to rise.
Data from the Office for National Statistics showed that 183 people had mentioned Covid on their death certificates in England and Wales during the week ending July 9, the latest available.
It was two-thirds higher than the week before and the most recorded since the second wave was extinguished in late April and the country was subject to much stricter lockdown rules.
Although deaths are now starting to increase – there are 42 on average every day now compared to 20 at the start of the month – they are still only a fraction of the levels seen during the worst of the second wave, when there are had up to 1,800.
Experts say the number of deaths will continue to rise as cases rise, but government science advisers expect them to peak at 200 or less due to the success of the vaccines.
The report found that deaths from Covid in nursing homes were also low despite the increase in cases in the community. There were 20 registered last week, and they haven’t exceeded 30 since mid-April.
Last month, the ONS said the proportion of overall deaths in England and Wales blamed on the virus was only 1%. Now that is estimated at 2 percent and rising.
There were 183 Covid-related deaths in the week leading up to July 9, the latest available. This is a 67% increase from the same period last week and the highest since April. They are indicated on the graph (dark red bar)
Covid deaths in nursing homes have remained static, however, despite the increase in cases in the community. There were 20 last week, and they haven’t gone over 30 since March
Flu and pneumonia were also still responsible for more deaths than Covid over the past week. They are the cause of 254 deaths, against 147 who noted the Covid as the main cause of death
Deaths from all causes, however, rose 6% from the five-year average in England and Wales (shown) for the number of deaths expected at this time of year
But deaths from the virus in nursing homes have remained static despite the increase in Covid cases in the community
Every region in England has seen an increase in Covid deaths, but rates have remained stable in Wales, according to the ONS weekly report.
The North West – which has battled a major outbreak of the Indian ‘Delta’ variant – suffered the most deaths (66), followed by London and the West Midlands (both 20).
Meanwhile, the fewest Covid deaths have been recorded in the northeast (eight) although the region is currently hardest hit by the Indian variant, with case rates twice as high as levels reached during of the second wave.
Covid cases only increase 16% in one week, figures show
Britain’s daily Covid cases rose only 16% yesterday, as an expert hailed the small increase as a “remarkably good” sign that the outbreak may already start to slow down.
The usual Department of Health update showed there had been 39,950 infections across the UK in the past 24 hours, up from 34,471 recorded last Monday.
There was also another with 19 more recorded Covid deaths, which was more than triple the six victims reported a week ago but still 16 times less than the same point in previous waves.
Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease specialist at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline that the grim warnings of more than 200,000 daily cases and tens of thousands more deaths at this autumn’s peak seemed “a bit exaggerated ”. He suggested that infections might actually start to drop on Thursday, if the Covid crisis in England plays out the same way Scotland did following the surge in cases during the Euro 2020.
Nationally, there are currently 45,000 new infections every day in Britain, on average, and the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) expects this to reach at least 100,000 in August or September.
‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson – whose chilling first wave modeling spooked ministers during the initial shutdown – warned that daily cases could reach 200,000 this fall, eclipsing the 68,000 at the height of the crisis. second wave in January.
Deaths in the region will increase over the next few weeks due to the data lag between cases and deaths – it may take more than a fortnight for infected patients to become seriously ill.
No10 chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance warned that yesterday’s relaxation of Covid rules in England would likely trigger an increase in Covid deaths nationwide.
“Freedom Day” saw most of the remaining restrictions removed, with face masks made optional and nightclubs allowed to reopen for the first time in 16 months.
ONS Covid Death Data examines all cases in which the virus was listed on the death certificate.
It differs from the death toll from the Department of Health, which examines all patients who die within 28 days of testing positive for Covid, regardless of the cause.
It comes as cases hit their highest level in months after breaking through the 40,000 barrier, amid fears they could reach 200,000 a day in August.
But they only rose 16% yesterday after 39,950 were recorded, a sign that the third wave may already be slowing.
Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease expert at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline that the figures suggested the warnings of 200,000 cases per day were “a bit exaggerated”.
He suggested that infections might actually start to drop on Thursday, if England’s Covid crisis plays out in the same way as Scotland’s following the surge in cases at Euro 2020.
Hospitalizations and deaths are also on the rise, but they remain at levels much lower than in previous waves due to the success of the vaccination campaign.
Scientists have always been honest and have said that jabs aren’t perfect and won’t always prevent infection, but they dramatically reduce the chance that a person who catches the virus will be hospitalized or die.
But in a clear sign that they are working, yesterday’s analysis found Britain’s death rate from Covid is now 16 times lower than it was in waves one and two.
Infections are currently around 45,000 per day across Britain, with 40 deaths recorded every 24 hours on average. But the last time cases reached this level – when the second wave started to spiral out of control in late December – there were as many as 640 deaths a day.
Infections are currently around 45,000 per day (the yellow line shows an increase in cases since May) but deaths are still stable at around 40 per day (the pink line shows deaths in the third wave). For comparison, the last time cases hit this level when the second wave started to get out of hand (orange line), there were over 600 deaths daily.