Science

Rate of decline in Covid-19 deaths in England and Wales slows in latest ONS data


Covid-19 deaths in England and Wales have dropped steadily for the past seven weeks, but the rate of decline slowed in the most recent week of data.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics showed 532 deaths related to Covid-19 in the week ending 3 July. This was the lowest death toll since the week ending 27 March. Lockdowns were introduced in England, Wales and Scotland on 26 March.

The latest fatality figures showed a 12% decline from the previous week, when 606 deaths were reported. In the three weeks prior this, the number of deaths had dropped by between 20% and 30%, but this may be due to natural fluctuation rather than a significant change in the pace of decline.

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The decline in death rates in Scotland appears more pronounced than in England and Wales.

Prof Sheila Bird, formerly of the Biostatistics Unit at the University of Cambridge, said: “The rate of decline of [Covid-19] deaths is more gradual for England and Wales than in Scotland.

“However, later registration of deaths is permitted in England and Wales [and] leads to underestimation of the rate of decline in pandemic fatalities.

“It will remain unclear until a couple of weeks hence, when reliable counts are available, whether underestimation is the explanation or an increase.”

The number of excess deaths, which measures the number of deaths above the five-year average level, has also been steadily dropping.

ONS figures show deaths from all causes registered in England and Wales dipped below the five-year average for the third consecutive week.

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There were 9,140 deaths registered in the week ending 3 July, which was 0.5% lower than the average number of deaths in that week.

However, the number of deaths at home remain above the five-year average, prompting concerns people may not be getting medical help if they fall ill. There were 755 more deaths in private homes during the 27th week of the year than in an average week, most of which were not Covid-19 related.

Coronavirus infection rates have also been declining, as a new study published by Imperial College London shows the rate of infection in England was significantly reduced in the month before lockdown restrictions were lifted, a study has found.

According to the research from Imperial College London, the rate of infection throughout the country was halving every eight to nine days during May.

There were on average 13 positive cases for every 10,000 people, with an overall reproduction number of 0.57 – lower than previously reported.

For the study, researchers tested more than 120,000 volunteers aged over five across England for Covid-19.


About 69% of those who tested positive reported no symptoms on the day of the test or the previous week, though they may have developed symptoms later.

The report provides an insight into who was infected with the virus between 1 May and 1 June, comparing geography, age, sex, ethnicity, key worker status and symptoms.

Beyond the diminished rate of infection, the research found young adults aged 18 to 24 were more likely to test positive than other age groups.

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People of Asian ethnicity were also more likely to test positive than those of white ethnicity, while people working in care homes were at greater risk of being infected during lockdown than the general population.


There have now been 50,548 deaths attributed to Covid-19 in England and Wales.



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