Daily Covid deaths are currently running at less than half the rate expected in a bad flu year, MailOnline analysis suggests as experts claim the UK is finally on the brink of beating the pandemic.
There are growing calls for No10 to learn to live with Covid rather than focus on halting the spread of the virus now there is such a big disconnect between infections and deaths.
Right now just 130 people are dying from the coronavirus every day in England at what is believed to be the peak of the Omicron outbreak, compared to 1,300 last January before vaccines were widely available.
Daily deaths have barely moved since the start of autumn, despite infection rates more than quadrupling over the same time following the emergence of the ultra-transmissible variant.
For comparison, Government estimates show there were more than 400 influenza deaths per day at the peak of the last bad flu season in 2017/18, and almost 300 daily fatalities the previous year. Just like this winter, hospitals were forced to cancel routine operations and patients were told to steer clear of A&E units during both of those outbreaks.
Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease expert from the University of East Anglia, said the figures showed that the burden of Covid is now comparable to flu. He told MailOnline Covid would ‘almost certainly’ get weaker every year as people develop natural immunity and eventually become a common cold that kills only the very vulnerable further down the line.
‘Once we’re past this Omicron peak — excluding another unexpected variant that reverses all of our progress — then we’ll be close to the point of endemic,’ Professor Hunter added.
His comments come after Dr Clive Dix, the former chief of the UK’s vaccine taskforce, called for a return to a ‘new normality’ and for Covid to be treated like the flu now that they have a similar death rate.
MailOnline analysis shows the UK’s case fatality rate — the proportion of confirmed infections that end in death — has shrunk 21-fold from 3 per cent last winter to 0.15 per cent at the end of December. For comparison, seasonal influenza is thought to have a case-fatality rate of around 0.1 per cent but fewer tests are done. Other scientists expect the infection-fatality rate, which is naturally even lower, to be similar.
Dr Dix, who was instrumental in acquiring the UK’s initial Covid jab supply, called for mass population-based vaccination to end in favour of a ‘targeted strategy’ aimed at the vulnerable.
There are also calls for routine testing to be scrapped to put an end to the self-isolation crisis plaguing businesses and vital services now that Omicron is causing little or no symptoms for most. Writing in the Mail today, Professor Angus Dalgleish, an oncologist at St George’s University, said mass screening was beginning to amount to ‘national self-harm’. +9
To work out flu deaths, the UK Health Security Agency — formerly Public Health England — estimates them using a statistical model, which looks at the prevalence of flu and excess winter fatalities. The cumulative number of fatalities was estimated to be in the region of 15,000 in 2016/17, with about 300 people dying every day at the peak. In 2017/18, during the Aussie flu outbreak, a total of 22,000 people were killed by influenza, with in excess of 400 dying per day at the worst of the epidemic. But in 2018/19 just 4,000 were estimated to have died to the virus, with just tens of people dying per day at the peak+9
How flu and Covid compare to other leading causes of death: Cancer is the biggest killer, taking around 166,000 lives every year, followed by dementia and heart disease. Covid has killed More than 150,000 Britons since the pandemic took off but it is expected to settle down and become an endemic illness in the coming years+9
Since the first case of Omicron was spotted in England on November 27, there have been roughly 4,000 Covid deaths, some of which will have been Delta due to the lag between cases and severe disease. This equates to about 90 daily deaths
Despite gloomy forecasts by the Government’s scientific advisory panel SAGE of up to 6,000 daily Covid deaths, they have remained flat throughout the Delta and Omicron waves.
A big surge was anticipated as the country moved into winter but that never materialised. There were roughly 100 average daily Covid deaths at the end of August in England, rising to 131 on the latest recent count on January 1.
Comparing Covid and flu deaths is difficult because far fewer people are tested for influenza, which was the case even before the pandemic struck. Read Rest of the article Here