According to the most recently peer-reviewed paper on Covid-19, how many people who get the virus do you think survive? Go on, take a wild guess. Eighty percent? Ninety percent? Ninety-five percent? Nope. Precisely 99.8 percent live to see another day. Under-70s have an even higher survival rate – 99.96. Put another way, they have a 0.04 chance of dying; less than half of half a per cent.
And many of those are already seriously or even terminally ill from other conditions.
The Office for National Statistics said this week that far from a “second wave”, figures show all UK deaths are currently just 1.5 percent above average, and on a normal trajectory for early autumn.
[Hospital admissions] stubbornly bump along near the bottom of the chart.The co-relationship between diagnosis and death has radically changed in the last six months as treatments dramatically improve.
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.)