Covid is now behind fewer than one in 160 deaths in England and Wales, official statistics revealed today, the lowest number since before the first lockdown last March.
Office for National Statistics data showed 66 out of 9,860 death certificates listed the virus as the underlying cause of death in the week to May 21.
For comparison, flu and pneumonia were blamed for four times more deaths after they were listed as the underlying cause on 287 certificates. Some 25 care home residents also died from Covid in the latest week.
Every region in England went at least one day without registering a single death from the virus over this period, data showed. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland also went at least one day without registering a Covid fatality.
Britain’s speedy vaccination drive — which has already jabbed almost three quarters of adults and offered at least one dose to everyone vulnerable to the virus — is thought to be behind the low death figures.
Some SAGE scientists are urging the Prime Minister to push back plans to dump face masks and social distancing amid rising cases of the Indian variant, warning ‘mini Covid volcanoes’ could erupt in local hospitals. It takes around three weeks for someone who has caught the virus to become severely ill and sadly die from the disease.
But Oxford University professor and top Government adviser Sir John Bell today called on ministers not to ‘scamper down rabbit holes when there’s a new variant’. He said they should instead watch hospitalisation and deaths figures, which the jabbing drive aimed to prevent.
It comes after Britain recorded zero Covid deaths yesterday for the first time since last July, but cases rose by 27 per cent after another 3,165 were spotted by swabbers.
Statisticians at the national agency leaf through thousands of death certificates registered in England and Wales to identify all those that mention Covid, and whether they note it down as a cause of death.
The ONS figures lag behind the Department of Health’s daily total because it can take around two weeks to formally register a fatality, creating a delay due to the disease.
Death certificates list underlying factors — the conditions thought to be responsible for the fatality — but also mention other conditions thought to have contributed to deaths but not to be the main factor behind the fatality.
Overall, Covid was mentioned on 107 death certificates in the latest weeks. This was a dip of 29 per cent on the previous week and accounted for 1.1 per cent of all fatalities registered.