England has recorded zero daily Covid deaths for the first time since July, in a situation welcomed by experts who said it reflected the impact of lockdowns and vaccination against the disease.
Monday marked the first time since 30 July last year that no deaths within 28 days of positive Covid test were reported in England, following Monday 3 May’s report of a single death by the same metric. No deaths were recorded in Scotland or Northern Ireland on Monday. However, four Covid-related deaths were recorded in Wales.
While experts cautioned that the figures were only one measure of Covid-related deaths, and were often affected by time lags in reporting, they said the declining death toll was promising.
Rowland Kao – a professor of epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh who contributes to the Spi-M modelling subgroup of Sage, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies – said the fall in deaths reflected the impact of vaccination.
“There is always a higher recording of deaths in the second half of the week … but overall it is good news, and does reflect the fact that the shift in recorded cases has moved heavily towards younger age groups, with many more cases per unit population now occurring in the younger adults and teenagers who are much less likely to die,” he said.
Dr Michael Head, a senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton, agreed. “We know that reported numbers of deaths varies a little depending on the day of the week, which reflect the lag time in the system and indeed also difficulties with real-time reporting. We often also see ‘newly-reported deaths today’, rather than the actual date of death,” he said. “However, regardless of reporting idiosyncrasies, the daily numbers of Covid-19 deaths are much lower than even three months ago. This is great news and excellent progress.”
Head added that the situation contrasted starkly with that at the end of January, when there were more than 1,000 newly reported Covid-related deaths in the UK each day by the same metric, with intensive care units working beyond 100% capacity.
“We owe all the frontline workers a huge thank you for working under those circumstances, the extent of which were avoidable,” he said.
“We won’t get zero deaths every day over the next few weeks, but we can expect the numbers to remain low. This is thanks to the recent lockdown that helped to reduce transmission, but also the vaccines for protecting the older and vulnerable population,” he added.
But while the situation in the UK is, at present, positive, the pandemic is increasingly globally.
“India is a high-profile example of a country that is suffering, but around the world there continues to be higher numbers of new cases per day than at any point during the pandemic,” said Head. “This will have some impact within the UK, in terms of the potential for imported cases and subsequent localised outbreaks and new variants of interest.”