Authorities confirm 1,564 fatalities in one day
Experts condemn ‘phenomenal failure of policy and practice’
United Kingdom (UK) health authorities on Wednesday confirmed that more than 100,000 people have died from Coronavirus since the disease first broke out in the country almost a year ago.
In what public health experts said is a sign of “phenomenal failure of policy and practice”, the daily figure for recorded deaths stood at 1,564, a new record high that brings the total to 101,160.
According to analysis of figures from government and statistical agencies, the toll far exceeds some of the worst-case scenario estimates made during the first wave of the pandemic.
The latest development comes amid warnings that the toughest weeks of the crisis are yet to come and that Britons are facing an epidemic of grief for lost relatives and loved-ones, with many forced to mourn alone amid lockdown measures and curbs on funerals.
Almost one in every 660 people in the UK have died from COVID or COVID-related causes so far during the pandemic – or about one-in-six of all deaths. The UK has one of the worst coronavirus mortality rates in the world, at 151 per 100,000 people.
Even by the lower government figure, which only measures deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID test, the UK is now ahead of the US, Spain and Mexico, where there have been 116, 113 and 108 deaths per 100,000 people respectively.
The figures are also in stark contrast to counties that have maintained low case and death rates, including Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia where death rates per 100,000 people stand at 0.3, 0.5 and 3.6.
Gabriel Scally, a visiting professor of Public Health at the University of Bristol and a member of the Independent Sage group of experts, said the 100,000-plus death toll was an indictment of the way the pandemic had been handled.
“It is an astounding number of preventable deaths from one cause in one year, [an] absolutely astounding number. It’s a sign of a phenomenal failure of policy and practice in the face of this new and dangerous virus,” Scally said.
The government has been repeatedly accused of acting too late to reduce the spread of the virus. In March, Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, said keeping deaths from coronavirus below 20,000 would be a “good outcome”.
There have been 93,418 coronavirus deaths recorded by statistical agencies, based on those with COVID on the death certificate, from the beginning of the pandemic up to 10 January, and a further 7,742 deaths since, according to figures published by the government based on deaths within 28 days of a positive test for the virus.
The way coronavirus deaths in the UK are counted has changed since the beginning of the pandemic. While statistical agencies count deaths where Covid-19 is noted on the death certificate, the government figures released each day count fatalities within 28 days of a positive test. The Guardian analyses the data from both sources to achieve the most up-to-date fatality count possible.
Prof Andrew Hayward, a member of the government’s Sage advisory group and director of University College London’s Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, said: “The UK ranks seventh in the world in terms of numbers of deaths per million population through the pandemic.
“During the last week, our death rate was the second highest in the world – a record that is ‘world-beating’ in all the wrong ways.” – The Guardian