Covid was not the underlying cause of death in nearly a quarter of virus-related fatalities last week, official figures suggest.
The most up-to-date Office for National Statistics figures showed there were 922 deaths registered in England and Wales mentioned coronavirus on the death certificate in the week to January 7. Of them, Covid was not ruled to be the primary reason for the death in 210 cases, or 23 per cent — although it may have been a contributing factor.
For comparison, the share of deaths not primarily due to the virus stood at around 16 per cent when Omicron first arrived in the UK. With the Alpha wave last January, before the country embarked on its historic vaccination drive, the proportion was about 10 per cent.
The rise of the milder strain has led to a similar pattern emerging in hospitals, where nearly half of virus inpatients are not primarily needing treatment for the infection — compared to about 25 per cent with Delta.