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Is the UK’s REAL COVID-19 death toll 55% higher?

Britain’s coronavirus outbreak may have killed 55 per cent more people than daily Government statistics let on, meaning thousands of victims are still uncounted.

Weekly data released today showed that deaths outside of hospitals pushed England and Wales’s death toll to 22,351 for April 17, a significant rise on the 14,451 announced on that date by the Department of Health.

If the same increase – 54.6 per cent – were applied to the total death toll confirmed yesterday (21,092) it could mean the real number of victims is 32,608.

Office for National Statistics data, which gives a weekly picture of how many people have died outside of hospitals, recorded 3,096 care home deaths in the week from April 11 to April 17. This was almost triple the 1,043 announced the week before. 

Many of those who die outside of hospitals are not tested for the coronavirus while alive, meaning this data shows Britain’s outbreak is much larger than it appears. Some are never officially diagnosed and are only suspected to have had the illness.

So many people are being killed by the virus that that week, from April 11 to 17, was the deadliest for England and Wales since records began in 1993 and had a death toll (22,351) more than double the yearly average (10,497).

Four out of every 10 people who died in that week were infected with coronavirus.

The World Health Organization has warned that half of COVID-19 deaths happening in Europe are taking place in nursing homes, and the UK’s count is rising fast.

British officials have faced heavy criticism for not offering enough support to the sector and chief scientist Sir Patrick Vallance said they were warned ‘very early on’.  

The number of people dying with the coronavirus in England and Wales is around 55 per cent higher when non-hospital deaths are included, according to the Office for National Statistics

The number of people dying with the coronavirus in England and Wales is around 55 per cent higher when non-hospital deaths are included, according to the Office for National Statistics

The number of people dying with the coronavirus in England and Wales is around 55 per cent higher when non-hospital deaths are included, according to the Office for National Statistics

Office for National Statistics shows a difference of 53 per cent between the daily death counts and the backdated information it releases once a week

Office for National Statistics shows a difference of 53 per cent between the daily death counts and the backdated information it releases once a week

Office for National Statistics shows a difference of 53 per cent between the daily death counts and the backdated information it releases once a week

The Office for National Statistics data is the most accurate information about the numbers of people who die of coronavirus – or any other cause – each week.

It counts deaths in hospitals as well as those that happen in other places such as nursing homes, in public, in hospices or in their own houses.

And it also counts everyone who has COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate, whether it has been confirmed with a test or not. This means it records using a wider net than the NHS – it may include some wrong diagnoses but also include those who would never normally have been tested.

The downside to the data, however, is that it is backdated and takes a long time to record, meaning it’s 10 days out of date by the time it gets published.

It also does not include Scotland or Northern Ireland, which have their own records. 

In a bid to speed up recording, the sector regulator the Care Quality Commission has also been drafted in to collect reports of confirmed and suspected deaths caused by COVID-19.

CARE HOME DEATH COUNT TRIPLES IN A WEEK 

The number of people dying each week in care homes has tripled in a month, according to a shock report.

ONS data shows 7,316 fatalities were recorded in homes across England and Wales in the week that ended April 17 – including 2,050 involving COVID-19.

In comparison, just 2,471 deaths were registered in care homes in the week that ended March 13 – before the crisis began to spiral in Britain.

But the rate has risen in line with the coronavirus outbreak, jumping to 3,769 in Week 14 (March 27-April 3) and 4,927 in Week 15 (April 3-10).

It means the official care home death toll from COVID-19 – registered up until April 17 – in England and Wales stands at 3,096.

But the true figure is likely to be much higher because it does not take into account a registration lag.

For example, separate figures show the number of care home deaths that occurred in England up until April 17 but registered by April 25 was 3,936.

Meanwhile, England’s care regulator – the CQC – says the number of COVID-19 fatalities in homes is at least 4,300. This tally includes both suspected and confirmed cases.

County Durham has so far had the highest number of COVID-19 fatalities in care homes with 84, followed by Sheffield (79), Birmingham (71) and Liverpool (67).

The CQC’s data has been reported today for the first time and shows that 4,343 people are believed to have died with the disease in care homes between April 10 and 24. 

So many people are being killed by the virus in England that more people died in the week from April 11 to April 17 than in any other week since records began in 1993.

A total 22,351 deaths were recorded in just seven days – one person every 27 seconds –  and 8,758 of them had COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate.

The total was more than double the average for that week of the year – 10,497 – and coronavirus deaths almost hit the average on their own.

Not all of the deaths in ONS figures will be as a direct result of COVID-19. Many who tested positive or had the virus mentioned on their death certificate will have died from other causes.  

The number of people dying each week in care homes has tripled in a month amid the coronavirus crisis, according to a shock report.

ONS data shows 7,316 fatalities were recorded in homes across England and Wales in the week that ended April 17 – including 2,050 involving COVID-19.

In comparison, just 2,471 deaths were registered in care homes in the week that ended March 13 – before the crisis began to spiral in Britain.

But the rate has risen in line with the coronavirus outbreak, jumping to 3,769 in Week 14 (March 27-April 3) and 4,927 in Week 15 (April 3-10).

BRITAIN’S DEADLIEST EVER WEEK SAW 22,000 PEOPLE DIE – INCLUDING 8,700 FROM COVID-19 

More than 22,000 people died in England and Wales during the week that ended April 17, 2020 – the deadliest seven-day spell since records began.

ONS statistics showed 22,351 fatalities were registered between April 11 and 17 – more than double the five-year average (10,497).

COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate of 8,758 victims (39.2 per cent). This is up from 33.6 per cent in the week that ended April 10.

Not all of the deaths will be as a direct result of COVID-19. For instance, scores of victims who tested positive will have died from other causes.

Statisticians said there was 3,835 more deaths registered during the seven-day spell than the week before, when 18,516 fatalities were counted.

Only one other week in modern times has seen more than 20,000 deaths in England and Wales – January 1-7 2000 (20,566).

The huge spike came during the worst flu outbreak to hit Britain in decades, which saw hospitals use lorries at make-shift morgues.  

As well as people dying as a result of catching the virus and falling ill with it, people are also believed to be becoming indirect COVID-19 victims.

A&E attendances for all conditions, and notably heart attacks, have plummeted since the outbreak started because people are afraid of catching the virus in hospital or burdening the NHS.

And others have faced treatment delays or cancellations – all non-urgent operations have been cancelled, and some cancer therapies delayed – which risks putting their health at risk.

THE 10 DEADLIEST EVER WEEKS IN ENGLAND AND WALES, SINCE ONS RECORDS BEGAN

17/04/2020

07/01/2000

08/01/1999

10/01/1997

10/04/2020 

14/01/2000

03/01/1997

17/01/1997

03/04/2020 

09/01/2015

22,351

20,566

20,116

18,541

18,516 

17,776

17,646

16,652

16,387 

16,195

It means the official care home death toll from COVID-19 – registered up until April 17 – in England and Wales stands at 3,096.

But the true figure is likely to be much higher because it does not take into account a registration lag.

For example, separate figures show the number of care home deaths that occurred in England up until April 17 but registered by April 25 was 3,936.

Meanwhile, England’s care regulator – the CQC – says the number of COVID-19 fatalities in homes is at least 4,300. This tally includes both suspected and confirmed cases.

County Durham has so far had the highest number of COVID-19 fatalities in care homes with 84, followed by Sheffield (79), Birmingham (71) and Liverpool (67). 

It comes after Britain’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, yesterday revealed that he and other senior scientists warned politicians ‘very early on’ about the risk COVID-19 posed to care homes. 

Sir Patrick, who chairs the group along with Professor Chris Whitty, said they had ‘flagged’ the risk of care home and hospital outbreaks at the start of the epidemic.

While warnings about hospitals sparked a ‘protect the NHS‘ mantra and a scramble to buy ventilators and free up beds, nursing homes saw no such efforts. 

The Government has been slated for its lack of support to nursing homes, with no routine testing available, no up-to-date records of the number of people infected or dead, and ‘paltry’ attempts to deliver adequate protective clothing for staff. 

Care home staff and residents say they feel ‘forgotten’ and bosses accused officials of a ‘shambolic’ attempt to help nursing homes fend off the disease, which is lethal for elderly people in particular. 

Explaining how SAGE works in a briefing yesterday, Sir Patrick Vallance said: ‘Very early on we looked at a number of topics, we looked at nosocomial infection very early on, that’s the spread in hospitals, and we flagged that as something that the NHS needed to think about. 

‘We flagged the fact that we thought care homes would be an important area to look at, and we flagged things like vaccine development and so on. So we try to take a longer term view of things as well as dealing with the urgent and immediate areas.’

The SAGE committee, which draws in leading researchers from around the UK and rifles through scientific evidence about COVID-19, was activated on January 3 when Sir Patrick became concerned about the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.

It met for the first time on January 22, suggesting ‘very early on’ in its discussions was likely the end of January or the beginning of February.

The first care home death in England and Wales was not officially recorded until March 31.

Courtesy DAILY MAIL

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