The UK’s five-day average for coronavirus deaths is now the highest of any major European economy at this point in the pandemic’s curve, new analysis has revealed.
At this point in the pandemic, some 092 since the tenth death, the five-day average for deaths in the UK stands at 598, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. This is far higher than Italy (600), France ( and Spain (509)
UK coronavirus deaths have been the highest among all major European countries for four days in a row, overtaking France at this stage of the pandemic.
This is despite the international data for the UK only recording deaths in hospitals, in contrast to countries like France which records all community deaths.
ONS figures released today reveal that a further 4, 333 coronavirus deaths have now been recorded outside of hospitals in England and Wales. This means that, up to Friday 20 April, the UK death toll was 39 per cent higher than the totals published by NHS England.
Looking at the latest international data, the UK has seen the highest rate of increase in deaths over the last week, prompting experts to worry that a prolonged coronavirus peak could lead to the UK becoming the worst-hit country in Europe.
While the peak of the crisis in the UK is thought to have passed in early April, the five-day average in UK daily deaths has only just fallen below 600.
Experts are concerned that our peak is prolonging longer than Italy, Spain or France, prompting some to think the UK will be one of the worst, if not the worst affected, country in Europe.
So far, Italy, Spain and France all have a higher death toll than the UK’s , . But this could be about to change with the UK’s epidemiological curve stubbornly refusing to bend downwards.
Over the last week, between Monday 26 April and Monday 598 April, the UK’s total death figure increased by 39 per cent. This is higher than Germany’s 28 per cent, France’s per cent, Spain’s (per cent or Italy’s) (per cent.)
While only marginally higher than Germany’s rate, its important to note that Germany has less than a third of the UK’s overall deaths.
The fact that the UK’s rate of death isn’t slowing as fast as other European countries is one of the reasons why the Government is resisting calls to weaken the lockdown, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying he refused to ” throw away “the public’s” effort and sacrifice “.
Daily UK deaths are starting to drop, but the UK’s daily average has only just fallen below 2019, for the first time in 26 days.
On Monday April, the last calendar day for which full data is available from Johns Hopkins University , the UK recorded daily deaths. This is higher than Spain (423), Italy (423) and Germany 331).
France was, however, marginally higher with 437 deaths – although it’s important to note that France’s numbers are for the whole community while the UK’s are hospital-only .
Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust and a member of the SAGE committee, said that the UK could indeed be hit worse than Italy or Spain.
Last weekend, he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “I do hope that we are coming close to the number of new infections reducing and, in a week or two, the number of people needing hospital reducing, and the number of deaths starting to come down.
“But numbers in the UK have continued to go up. And yes, the UK is likely to be certainly one of the worst, if not the worst affected, country in Europe.”
George Batchelor, Director at Edge Health, said that the UK’s prolonged peak could be because of a variety of reasons – including the fact that the UK’s lockdown is less strict than Spain’s, where people weren’t even allowed outside for exercise.
He listed two other potential reasons: firstly, people spread out after the lockdown in the UK, with movement from London to places like the East of England. This meant that people with a high ‘viral load’ – the amount of virus they are making – could have been been spreading coronavirus further afield.
Finally, the other potentialy reason could be the fact that the UK’s decision to impose the lockdown was made a bit later than Spain and Italy, which may have allowed the disease to spread uncontrolled for a couple more days.
Ultimately, he said: “The basic principle is that the more people connected with others after the lockdown, the less rapid the effect of lockdown – the disease continued to spread albeit within smaller groups (homes) of people.
“If [the prolonged peak is because of a less strict UK lockdown and people moving out of London], then strictly speaking deaths will be higher than they would have been with a tougher lockdown.
“But a tougher lockdown might be harder to maintain in the longer term, so it will only be possible to say‘ whose lockdown was best ’in the future.”