More than 55,000 deaths involving coronavirus have been recorded in the UK during the pandemic – Jack Taylor/Getty Images
Some of those who died from Covid-19 would have been likely to die later in the year, the Government statistics body said as it reported consistently below average death rates.
More than 55,000 deaths involving coronavirus have been recorded in the UK during the pandemic, with the virus the main reason for deaths increasing above what would normally be expected for the period.
The elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions are the most vulnerable to Covid-19 and have been hardest hit by the outbreak.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the virus was likely to have brought forward the deaths of some older and vulnerable people, which could prompt a period of below-average deaths.
Its researchers said: “The disease has had a larger impact on those most vulnerable – for example, those who already suffer from a medical condition – and those at older ages.
“Some of these deaths would have likely occurred over the duration of the year, but have occurred earlier because of the coronavirus. These deaths occurring earlier than expected could mean we start to see a period of deaths below the five-year average.”
Tuesday’s ONS figures show that 8,979 deaths from all causes in England and Wales were registered in the week ending June 26 – 314 fewer than the five-year average.
It is the second week in a row that weekly deaths have been below the average for this time of year. Before the week ending June 19, the last time they were below average was before the lockdown, in the week ending March 13.
Caroline Abrahams, the charity director at Age UK, said the deaths of older people during the coronavirus crisis have been “catastrophic”.
She said: “These most vulnerable people have been at the biggest risk of the virus and should have been better protected on all levels.
“It would be good to think that the number of deaths will fall over the coming months, but we must remain cautious and make sure that our most vulnerable are protected in case there is a resurgence of the virus late in the year.
“To do this, the Government needs to re-finance and reform social care so that older people at home and in care homes are safe and adequately cared for. “
The figures show that registered deaths involving coronavirus had dropped in all but one region in England and Wales in the week ending June 26.
In the north-east, there were two more deaths registered compared with the previous week.
All regions except the north-west, the East Midlands and the north-east saw overall registered deaths below those that would usually be expected for this time of year.
For the sixth week running, the number of deaths involving Covid-19 was highest in the north-west. The East Midlands had the highest proportion of deaths involving the virus – 11.1 per cent of all deaths.