Excess deaths in the UK have continued to soar, as Covid deaths decreased for fourth week in a row, the latest data shows.
A total of 10,942 deaths from all causes were registered in England and Wales in the week to 26 August, according to the Office for National Statistics.
This is 16.6 per cent above the five-year average, the equivalent of 1,556 “excess deaths” during this week.
However, new figures show a continued downward trend in deaths involving Covid-19, which have fallen to the lowest level since the beginning of July.
A total of 453 deaths registered in the seven days to August 26 mentioned coronavirus on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – down 18 per cent on the previous week.
The figures come following mounting concern over the high levels of excess deaths in England and Wales, and suggestions delays in NHS treatment are contributing.
Stuart Macdonald, from the Covid-19 actuaries’ response group, wrote on Sunday: “There have been around 5,300 deaths with Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate in the last ten weeks. Covid was the underlying cause for 3,400 of these and may also have contributed to others. Since Covid does not explain all the recent excess we need to look at other causes.”
Data from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) shows a significant proportion of deaths from heart failures were “excess deaths”. Which means above the average.
According to the figures for 11 June to 19 August, there were 13,155 heart failure deaths and of these 2,543 excess deaths. Excess deaths from heart disease and diabetes were also high at 19 per cent.
Mr Macdonald outlined a number of potential drivers of excess deaths which included increased risk of heart failure in people following Covid-19 infection, delays for urgent treatment within the NHS and missed or delayed diagnoses earlier in the pandemic.
Research published in Nature magazine this year suggested people who had a Covid-19 infection were 52 per cent more likely to have had a stroke. For people who had recovered from Covid-19, the research suggested “stark” increases across 20 different cardiovascular problems over a year after.
He added: “A concerning feature of the observed mortality over the last 12 months is the deviation from the usual seasonal pattern seen in the UK. We are no longer experiencing the spikes in deaths of the pre-vaccine pandemic era. Instead, we see death rates consistently at winter levels, leading to excess deaths in the summer months.
“Despite the record-breaking recent heatwave, NHS pressures and mortality rates seem stuck in a permanent winter. Urgent work is needed to fully understand the root cause of the issues and take steps to resolve them to minimise long-term harm to the nation’s health.”