26.11.2022

Effects of lockdown could be causing more deaths than Covid

The effects of lockdown could be causing more deaths than Covid as nearly 10,000 more deaths than the five-year average are recorded, ONS data has found.

Released on Tuesday, the Office for National Statistics’ figures for excess deaths in the UK has revealed that about 1,000 more people than usual are dying each week from illnesses and conditions other than Covid.

This makes the rate for excess deaths 14.4 per cent higher than the five-year average, meaning 1,350 more people have died than usual in the week ending 5 August.

Covid-related deaths made up for 469 of them, but the remaining 881 have ‘not been explained’. Since the start of June, nearly 10,000 more deaths unrelated to Covid have been recorded than the five-year average, making up around 1,089 per week.

This figure is over three times the number of people who died from Covid, 2,811, over the same period.

ONS analysis takes into consideration the ageing population changes, yet still found a ‘substantial ongoing excess’.

The effects of lockdown could be causing more deaths than Covid as nearly 10,000 more deaths than the five-year average are recorded, ONS data has found

The Telegraph has reported that the Department of Health may have ordered an investigation into the concerning numbers as there is potential for them to be linked to the delays in medical treatment as a result of the ongoing strain on the NHS.

Lockdowns pushed back treatment for conditions including cancer, diabetes and heart disease, with the British Heart Foundation telling the publication it was ‘deeply concerned’ by the findings.

The Stroke Association said it had been anticipating the rise in deaths for some time.

Noting a ‘disturbing’ number of mental health conditions, undetected cancers and cardiac problems, chief executive of private GP service Doctorcall Dr Charles Levinson said: ‘Hundreds and hundreds of people dying every week, what’s going on?

‘Delays in seeking and receiving healthcare are no doubt the driving force, in my view. Daily Covid statistics demanded the nation’s attention, yet these terrifying figures barely get a look in. A full and urgent government investigation is required immediately,’ he told the Telegraph.

Only last week England-wide statistics showed that emergency care standards in hospitals hit an all-time low, with over 20,000 patients facing a 12+ hour wait for medical treatment.

Only last week England-wide statistics showed that emergency care standards in hospitals hit an all-time low, with over 20,000 patients facing a 12+ hour wait for medical treatment

People with mild Covid are likely to be infectious for five days, study suggests

People with mild Covid are likely to be infectious for an average of five days, a new study estimates.

Only one in five people in the study were infectious before symptoms started, it was suggested.

NHS Covid pass issue fixed after glitch leaves travellers without vaccination records

The NHS Covid Pass, a digital record of individuals’ vaccine records, has been fixed after a technical issue left British travellers struggling to check into flights on Thursday.

Users trying to access proof of their vaccination status via the NHS App and website found that the service was unavailable from 3.50pm onwards on Thursday, with the app telling users: ‘We are sorry the NHS Covid Pass is currently unavailable.

‘At this time there is no alternative route for accessing this information via the NHS App or online.

‘If you have already downloaded the information then your access should not be affected.’

NHS Digital tweeted they were investigating ‘urgently’, adding: ‘We apologise for any issues this may cause and appreciate your patience as we work to resolve it.’

The service resumed working at 10pm after the technical issue was resolved.

The requirement for people to show the NHS Covid pass to visit indoor and outdoor events and venues, such as cinemas and nightclubs, was scrapped earlier this year.

However, it is still used as a way for people to show their vaccination status when travelling abroad to certain countries.

On social media, several holidaymakers said they were struggling to check in for flights during the outage because they were unable to prove their vaccination status.

Jon May, 32, was supposed to be flying to Valencia from Bristol at 6am on Friday for a work conference — but when he tried to download his proof of vaccination on the NHS App on Thursday, which he needs to enter Spain, he found that it was down.

He said: ‘I’ve had all three jabs, and I went to the NHS App… and it said ‘Service unavailable’. I was like ‘what do you mean, service unavailable? I’ve got a flight at 6am.»

Mr May, who works in marketing and is from Bristol, did not have any other documentation to prove he had been vaccinated and was nervous that he would be detained at the Spanish border.

‘I have had all my vaccinations, I just can’t get the certification,’ he said.

‘I might get to Spain and be deported from Spain, and that would be really embarrassing.’

Fi Bartlett, 24, from Bournemouth, was unable to complete her online check-in for her flight to Malaga on Saturday without proof of vaccination and said she had planned to go to the airport with her paper vaccination confirmation if it had not been fixed in time.

According to the research, two-thirds of cases were still infectious five days after symptoms began, with a quarter still infectious at seven days.

The study, led by Imperial College London and published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine journal, is the first to reveal how long infectiousness lasts after coronavirus infection in the community.

Detailed daily tests were conducted from when people were exposed to the virus to look at how much virus they were shedding throughout their infection.

The findings indicate that lateral flow tests do not reliably detect the start of infectiousness, but can be used to safely shorten self-isolation.

The researchers recommend people with Covid-19 isolate for five days after symptoms begin and do lateral flow tests from the sixth day.

If tests are negative two days in a row, it is safe to leave isolation, they say. However, if someone continues to test positive, they should isolate while testing positive but may leave isolation 10 days after their symptoms began.

Current NHS guidance suggests that people should try to stay at home and avoid contact with others for just five days.

Study author, Professor Ajit Lalvani, director of the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Respiratory Infections at Imperial, said: ‘Before this study we were missing half of the picture about infectiousness, because it’s hard to know when people are first exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and when they first become infectious.

‘By using special daily tests to measure infectious virus (not just PCR) and daily symptom records, we were able to define the window in which people are infectious.

‘This is fundamental to controlling any pandemic and has not been previously defined for any respiratory infection in the community.’

He added: ‘Combining our results with what we know about the dynamics of Omicron infections, we believe that the duration of infectiousness we’ve observed is broadly generalisable to current SARS-CoV-2 variants, though their infectious window may be a bit shorter.

‘Our evidence can be used to inform infection control policies and self-isolation guidance to help reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2.’

The new study followed people who were exposed to someone with PCR-confirmed Covid in their home between September 2020 and March 2021 and May-October 2021, including some who were vaccinated and others who were not.

Samples from a total of 57 people were used, but the duration of infectiousness was only measured in 42 people. There were 38 people with a confirmed date of when their symptoms started and three were asymptomatic.

Professor Lalvani said: ‘Self-isolation is not necessary by law, but people who want to isolate need clear guidance on what to do.

‘The NHS currently advises that if you test positive for Covid-19 you should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for five days, but our data suggest that under a crude five-day self-isolation period two-thirds of cases released into the community would still be infectious — though their level of infectiousness would have substantially reduced compared to earlier in the course of their infection.’

He continued: ‘Our study finds that infectiousness usually begins soon after you develop Covid-19 symptoms.

‘We recommend that anyone who has been exposed to the virus and has symptoms isolates for five days, then uses daily lateral flow tests to safely leave isolation when two consecutive daily tests are negative.’

The Office for National Statistics’ figures for excess deaths in the UK has revealed that about 1,000 more people than usual are dying each week from illnesses and conditions other than Covid (file photo)

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