Coronavirus killed three times as many in UK as pneumonia and flu combined
Stark new figures reveal that three times more people have died from coronavirus than flu and pneumonia combined so far this year.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that by August 31, there had been 48,168 Covid-19 deaths in England and Wales – compared to 13,619 due to pneumonia and 394 due to flu.
And statisticians have said that Covid-19 fatalities are already higher than any annual flu and pneumonia death tolls on record.
It comes as ministers grapple with rising case numbers, and a government advisor warned that daily coronavirus death tolls will pass 100 in the next two weeks.
Sarah Caul, head of mortality analysis at ONS, said: “More than three times as many deaths were recorded between January and August this year where Covid-19 was the underlying cause compared to influenza and pneumonia.
“The mortality rate for Covid-19 is also significantly higher than influenza and pneumonia rates for both 2020 and the five-year average.
“Since 1959, which is when ONS monthly death records began, the number of deaths due to influenza and pneumonia in the first eight months of every year have been lower than the number of Covid-19 deaths seen, so far, in 2020.”
ONS data shows that 30% of deaths in English and Welsh care homes were caused by coronavirus.
The combined figure for flu and pneumonia was 15.2%.
Overall ONS said 52,327 with Covid-19 had died in England and Wales by the end of August – of which the virus was the cause of death in 48,168 cases.
This was 12.4% of all deaths in the two country.
In the same period 69,781 deaths involved pneumonia and 506 deaths involved flu – but out of these, 13,619 and 394 deaths were ruled to be due to these illnesses.
Even during previous flu pandemics, the number of deaths is lower than those from Covid-19 in the first eight months of 2020.
The ONS reports said 29,788 died in the ‘Asian flu’ outbreak of 1957 and 46,966 in the ‘Hong Kong flu’ pandemic in 1969.
In April alone, 29,128 people died from coronavirus in England and Wales.
The five-year average for flu and pneumonia deaths in this month is 2,355.
Dr Adam Kucharski, who sits on the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, told the BBC: “We are facing a pretty serious outbreak.
“Deaths are now averaging over 50 a day; I think within the next couple of weeks we could quite well be seeing over a hundred a day.
“We are in a situation where cases are rising and they are going to continue to rise unless something changes.”
The associate professor at the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine added: “Although we have seen a lot of early transmission in younger groups have a milder illness, the structure of our population means it can very easily get over into risk groups once the epidemic starts growing.
“That’s obviously what we saw in the spring – it was probably younger people bringing it back in February.
“But by March you had large numbers of hospitalisations of people more at risk.”
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