Decline in number of Covid-19 weekly deaths in England and Wales stalls

It is too soon to know if the figures signal a levelling off or the start of a possible rise.

22 March 2022

The recent fall in the number of deaths involving coronavirus registered each week in England and Wales has come to a halt.

A total of 671 deaths registered in the seven days to March 11 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is broadly unchanged on the previous week’s total of 670 and comes after six successive drops in the number of deaths – the longest uninterrupted fall since spring last year.

Deaths involving Covid-19 in England & Wales
(PA Graphics)

It is too soon to know if the latest figures signal a levelling off in Covid-19 deaths or the start of a possible upwards trend.

Coronavirus infections have been rising across the UK since early March, driven by the Omicron BA.2 variant, but any impact from this increase on the number of death registrations will not be clear for several weeks.

During the previous surge of infections at the start of this year, which was caused by the original Omicron variant, Covid-19 deaths registered in England and Wales peaked at 1,484 in the week to January 21.

This was well below the 8,433 deaths registered at the peak of the second wave of the virus, in the week to January 29 2021.

The relatively low number of deaths during the Omicron wave reflects the success of the vaccination programme, in particular the rollout of booster doses at the end of last year.

Vaccine effectiveness against mortality with the Omicron variant for people aged 50 and over is estimated to be 95% at two or more weeks after a booster jab, compared with about 60% at 25-plus weeks after a second dose, according to the UK Health Security Agency.

Overall, a total of 188,078 deaths have now occurred in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, the ONS said.

The highest number on a single day was 1,487 on January 19 2021.

During the first wave of the virus, the daily toll peaked at 1,461 on April 8 2020.

Around nine in 10 deaths with Covid-19 on the death certificate since the start of the pandemic have coronavirus as the primary cause of death, with a minority listing the virus as a contributory factor.

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