There were 2,703 excess deaths across England and Wales in September, official figures show – but coronavirus was not in the 10 leading causes of fatality.
The leading cause of death in September for both nations was dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, has gone back to Plan A, reviving his ‘protect the NHS’ message from March and now wears a facemask with those words on it. The Prime Minister is repeating the slogan. It’s deeply controversial with senior doctors who fear that it discourages the sick from seeking help – which might explain the 28,000 excess at-home deaths over the last few months. The NHS is worried about this and has countered with its own advert, urging people to seek medical help. I looked at this in my latest Daily Telegraph column.
The NHS has learned much from the first wave of Covid. PPE equipment, for example, is now in bountiful supply. Basic medical techniques – better use of blood thinners, oxygen therapy, steroids etc – are having a big impact on survival rates. When Boris Johnson went into intensive care, his survival chances were about 50 per cent. Now, they would be closer to 70 per cent. The trajectory this time is nowhere near as daunting – the below graph shows the rise of Covid patients needing critical care. As the data shows, intensive care unit (ICU) usage is 13 per cent of what it was at the end of March. (These figures are from the Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre.)
- As of October 2020, there are >1 million documented deaths with COVID‐19.
- Many early deaths may have been due to suboptimal management, malfunctional health systems, hydroxychloroquine, sending COVID‐19 patients to nursing homes, and nosocomial infections; such deaths are partially avoidable moving forward.
- About 10% of the global population may be infected by October 2020.
- Global infection fatality rate is 0.15‐0.20%
- Global infection fatality rate in those younger than 70 years old is 0.03‐0.04%.
- Targeted, precise management of the pandemic and avoiding past mistakes would help minimize mortality.
- The ‘rule of six’ has no scientific evidence to back it up, and may well end up having major social consequences.
- Increased activity at the end of summer leads to an increase in acute respiratory infections, as it does every year.
- Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence Based Medicine: no scientific evidence on the effects of measures such as distancing on respiratory viral spread. No study pointing to the number six. If it’s made up, why not five or seven?
- Admissions for Covid, critical care bed occupancies and deaths are now at an all-time low.
- There are currently 600 patients in hospital with Covid compared to over 17,000 at the height of the epidemic. An average of ten patients a day die with Covid registered on their death certificate, compared to over 1,000 at the peak.
- Shift in focus away from the impact of the disease is a worrying development.
- Severity of the pandemic was monitored by numbers of cases, numbers of admissions, and deaths. All three measures are open to misinterpretation if their definitions are not standardised.
- Cases are being over-diagnosed by a test that can pick up dead viral load.
- Hospital admissions are subjective decisions made by physicians which can vary from hospital to hospital.
- Even deaths have been misattributed.
- Cases will rise, as they will in winter for all acute respiratory pathogens, but this will not necessarily translate into excess deaths.
- Models ignore the vast expertise of our clinicians and public health experts who could provide a more robust approach based on their real-world healthcare experiences.
- The current Cabinet is inexperienced:
- the Health Secretary has been in post for just over two years now;
- the PM and the Chief Medical Officer a year;
- The Joint Biosecurity Centre is overseen by a senior spy who monitors the spread of coronavirus and suppresses new outbreaks;
- New chair of the National Institute for Health Protection who has little or no background in healthcare.
- The recognised alert threshold for ‘regular’ acute respiratory infections is 400 cases per 100,000.
- Britain’s mental health has deteriorated. During lockdown, a fifth of vulnerable people considered self-harming, routine healthcare came to a standstill, operations were cancelled, and cancer care put on hold.
- The most glaring initial blunder was not observing what was going on in other European nations and learning from their mistakes.
- Life should return to as close as possible to normality.
Patients dying at home from causes other than Covid-19 are fuelling excess deaths across the UK, official figures show.
It was the worst winter on record for more than 40 years, with the 1975-76 season being the last time deaths climbed so high above the expected levels.
The NHS was rocked by a record winter crisis in early 2018, with a massive rise in flu cases and sub-zero temperatures triggered by the Beast from the East storm, which added further to death rates.
“The number of excess winter deaths in England and Wales in 2017 to 2018 was the highest recorded since the winter of 1975 to 1976,” said Nick Stripe, from the ONS Health Analysis and Life Events team.”
[Nicola Oliver ] tells us that 15,969 people died of flu (in England) last year, although only 320 died in hospital, and 15,649 were apparently left to die without due medical attention at home. What she fails to note is that the 15,969 deaths were not recorded deaths but a projection derived from the Flumomo algorithm  for ‘flu attributable deaths’ based on all cause mortality , so it does not really get us anywhere (except that it is just kind of thing I am complaining about!)