Coronavirus: The worst is over – but excess COVID-19 deaths are still horribly high | UK News

The good news first: not only is the worst period of the pandemic now over, the number who are dying is now dropping down towards normal levels.

There has been no second spike in the deaths numbers and excess mortality, which is the number dying above typical seasonal levels, is down to the lowest level since the early weeks of the pandemic.

Within a week or two, it looks quite likely that the UK will no longer have excess mortality and the numbers who have died are far below those feared by many epidemiologists early on in the outbreak.

But the bad news is those numbers are nonetheless horribly high. The total number of excess deaths is now up to around 62,000.

Of those, around 48,000 are accounted for by COVID-19, which implies either that COVID deaths are being undercounted or that there have been many thousands of deaths caused indirectly by the disease – from the lockdown or from changes to health practices.

When you compare the UK’s excess death numbers to the size of the population it has one of, if not the worst, death tolls in the world, with 929 deaths per million of the population.

It is worth being cautious over these numbers as they get revised very frequently, but there is no disguising that as things stand the outbreak has hit the UK worse than almost any other country – developed or developing.

Look at the UK nations in turn and there is another divergence. While Northern Ireland has half the deaths per head of the population (445 per million), England has 966 per million and Scotland 855 per million. Wales has 690 per million.

It will take some time before we know the full toll of the pandemic.

Even once excess mortality has dropped down to “normal” levels we will still need to see how it looks some months from now.

But it is already clear that the impact of this pandemic is very significant indeed.

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