11 October 2022

Fall in Covid-19 death registrations may have levelled off

11 October 2022

The recent fall in the number of Covid-19 deaths in England and Wales may have levelled off, new figures suggest.

Some 287 deaths registered in the seven days to September 30 mentioned coronavirus on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is up from 235 deaths the previous week, when figures were affected by the bank holiday on September 19 for the Queen’s funeral, which saw most council buildings closed.

This means slightly more deaths are likely to have been registered in the latest week than would normally be the case, due to register offices clearing any backlog from earlier in the month.

It is too soon to know if the recent downwards trend in death registrations has come to a definite halt.

It is also too early to see any clear impact in death registrations from the latest rise in Covid-19 infections.

This is because the trend in deaths lags behind the equivalent trend in infections due to the length of time between someone catching the virus and becoming seriously ill, as well as the time it takes for deaths to be registered.

Registrations climbed during much of June and July following the wave of infections caused by the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants of Covid-19.

Deaths peaked at 810 in the week to July 29, then began to fall.

This peak was well below the level seen during the Alpha wave in January 2021, when weekly deaths reached nearly 8,500.

High levels of Covid antibodies among the population – either from vaccination or previous infection – mean the number of people seriously ill or dying from the virus this year has stayed low.

Data in the next few weeks will confirm if the latest figures signal a turning point ahead of another possible increase.

Figures published last week by the ONS showed that Covid-19 infections are continuing to rise in England, though the trend is uncertain in Wales.

In England, the number of people in private households testing positive for coronavirus in the week to September 24 was 1.1 million, or around one in 50 – up from 857,400, or one in 65, in the previous week.

The latest estimate for infections in Wales is 63,400, or one in 50 people, compared with 62,900, which is also one in 50.

Infection levels are still well below those reached during the BA.4/BA.5 wave, however.

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