UK has one of lowest Covid death rates in Europe as fatalities from all causes plummet to 2014 levels – despite pandemic
BRITAIN now has one of the lowest Covid death rates in Europe – while the number of people dying of all causes is at its lowest level since 2014, in spite of the pandemic.
Mocked as 'the sick man of Europe' as coronavirus took hold last year, the dazzling success of the UK's jab's roll-out, combined with a tough lockdown – one of the strictest in the world – has forced down fatalities.
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And experts say the number of people losing their lives for any reason is currently at a low not seen in almost a decade.
Sir David Spiegelhalter, a statistician at the University of Cambridge, and Anthony Masters of the Royal Statistical Society, say in the week ending March 19, 10,311 deaths were registered in England and Wales – a "remarkably low total".
It comes as:
- Brits will offered two free Covid tests a week as a new single-shot jab looks set to save foreign holidays
- Boris Johnson prepares to make four big lockdown announcements today
- Covid deaths halve in a week while cases are the lowest they've been since last August
- British clubbers will hit the dance floor as part of a new trial next week
- A plan for vaccine passports in pub has been ditched by the PM in a huge boost for the industry
In an article for the Observer, the experts said: "Every one of these events is a cause of sadness and mourning.
"But, from a statistical perspective, this is a remarkably low total, the lowest since 2014 for that week."
Of the deaths recorded that week, 740 had Covid as the underlying cause.
The scientists say there are a number of reasons for the low overall total, including "fairly mild" weather and "far fewer road casualties" as a result of lockdown.
Last year's national restrictions saved more than 20 lives a week, they said.
However, the biggest single reason is the virtual eradication of winter flu.
"Flu hospitalisations are near to nil," they said.
"Flu is much less infectious than Sars-CoV-2.
"The distance we are all keeping from each other means, like countries in the southern hemisphere during their respective winters, we appear to have skipped our flu season entirely.
"That has saved many thousands of lives."
But the experts say there's also a tragic reason for the drop in deaths.
"There is the sad fact that some vulnerable people who died in the first wave would otherwise have survived another year and be dying now," they said.
The UK yesterday recorded 10 deaths – the joint-lowest in more than six months – and just 2,297 new cases, the lowest since August 30.
In weekly figures to April 4, Britain recorded four deaths per million people – making it the fourth-lowest for fatalities in Europe, behind Norway, Denmark and Portugal.
Hungary is currently the worst-hit country in Europe with 180 deaths per million people. It also has the highest number of cases per million – 5,395, as compared to Britain's 395.
Meanwhile, the UK's daily cases are down more than 27 per cent, while new positive tests are rising in countries including France, Spain, Cyprus and Croatia.
Worst affected for rising cases is Denmark, with a whopping 111.5 per cent surge – although the country is still recording some of the lowest overall rates in Europe.
Denmark culled its entire mink population – around 17million of the creatures – over the winter after scientists raised concern about a powerful new coronavirus strain spreading through the animal population.
Europe has been badly affected by a bungled jabs roll-out.
EU leaders have repeatedly instated – and then partially suspended – the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, which is the workhorse of the UK's vaccination programme.
Covid deaths in Britain may also be continuing to drop so sharply because fewer over-70s are falling ill in the first place.
In 52 areas of England, there have been no new cases of Covid in that age group for more than a week.
And while there's usually a strict north-south divide – with the most recent epicentres for the Kent variant emerging in London and the south-east before travelling north – the new 'notspots' are spread across the country.
Burnley, Boston, Southwark and Stafford have all recorded zero cases in over-70s in recent days.
Epping Forest in Essex, which in early January had the second-highest rate of infection among over-70s with nearly 1,200 cases per 100,000 people, has not had a case in that age group since March 18.
People in the age group are far more likely to be hospitalised and die of Covid, accounting for more than 85 per cent of all coronavirus deaths last year.
But the vaccination drive is turning the tide, and the Office for National Statistics says almost 100 per cent of England's over-70s have now received at least one dose of the jab.
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