Around 10,000 more people than usual have died in the UK from non-COVID reasons over the past four months, causing experts to call for an urgent government inquiry to find out if the deaths were preventable.
It is now feared that NHS delays at the height of the pandemic left huge numbers of people with what were previously treatable conditions, suffering with illnesses that then became fatal.
MSN reports: Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that England and Wales registered 20,823 more deaths than the five-year average in the past 18 weeks. Only 11,531 deaths involved Covid.
It means that 9,292 deaths – 45 per cent – were not linked to the pandemic.
‘We urgently need to understand what’s going wrong’
Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, said: “I’m calling for an urgent investigation.
“If you look at where the excess is happening, it’s in conditions like ischemic heart disease, cirrhosis of the liver and diabetes, all which are potentially reversible.
“This goes beyond just looking at the raw numbers and death certificates. We need to go back and find if these deaths have any preventable causes.
“This could be the fallout from the lack of preventable care during the pandemic, and what happens downstream of that.
“We urgently need to understand what’s going wrong and an investigation of the root causes to determine those actions that can prevent further unnecessary deaths.”
Weekly figures for the week ending November 5 showed that there were 1,659 more deaths than would normally be expected at this time of year. Of those, 700 were not caused by Covid.
The excess is likely to grow as more deaths are registered in the coming weeks.
The number of deaths in private homes is also 40.9 per cent above the five-year average, with 964 excess deaths recorded in the most recent week, which runs up to November 5.
Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at The Open University, said: “Numbers of deaths from all causes do usually increase at this time of year, but the total number remains above the average for the corresponding week in the five years 2015 to 2019.
“So, on that definition, we still have excess deaths, as we have had for 18 straight weeks now, and not all those excess deaths are due to Covid-19.
“And we’re still seeing considerable excess numbers of deaths in people’s own homes, compared to the 2015-19 average, with most of those deaths not involving Covid-19.
“In the most recent week, there were 891 excess deaths at home that did not involve Covid-19 – that’s about 127 a day.”