Covid-19 killing more than flu and pneumonia combined


Covid-19 could be more deadly than flu and pneumonia combined, new figures suggest.

In every year since monthly death records for England and Wales began in 1959, there have been fewer deaths due to flu and pneumonia from January to August than there have been deaths due to Covid-19 so far this year.

More than three times as many deaths were attributed to Covid-19 compared to flu and pneumonia in the first eight months of the year, the ONS said.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that there were 48,168 deaths due to Covid-19 between January and August, compared with 13,619 deaths due to pneumonia and 394 deaths due to influenza.

Statisticians examined mortality rates for the three conditions.

Between January 1 and August 31 2020, 52,327 deaths in England and Wales involved Covid-19.

Out of these, 48,168 deaths had Covid-19 listed as the underlying cause of death.

To August 31 this year, flu and pneumonia were mentioned on more death certificates than Covid-19.

But Covid-19 was the underlying cause of death in over three times as many deaths between January and August 2020.

The proportion of Covid-19 deaths in care homes was almost double the proportion of deaths due to influenza and pneumonia, 30% and 15.2% respectively, the ONS added.

When officials compared the Covid-19 death rate this year to date to annual flu and pneumonia death rates, they found that deaths due to Covid so far this year have been higher than the total annual number of deaths from flu and pneumonia every year since 2000, when there were 56,623 deaths related to flu and pneumonia across the whole year.

Sarah Caul, head of mortality analysis at ONS, said: "More than three times as many deaths were recorded between January and August this year where Covid-19 was the underlying cause compared to influenza and pneumonia.

"The mortality rate for Covid-19 is also significantly higher than influenza and pneumonia rates for both 2020 and the five-year average.

"Since 1959, which is when ONS monthly death records began, the number of deaths due to influenza and pneumonia in the first eight months of every year have been lower than the number of Covid-19 deaths seen, so far, in 2020."

Commenting on the figures, Dr Nick Scriven, immediate past president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: "As coronavirus cases increase in number across the NHS and predominantly in the northern half of the country, these latest figures from the ONS show us just how many people have sadly died due to this infection compared to those who died of other common respiratory infections although it must be noted that this data is through spring and summer when the latter are usually less prevalent in the community.

"If the number of people dying from pneumonia and influenza is the same as last year and the impact of Covid remains relatively the same, it could imply a further 13,000 pneumonia/influenza deaths through to January but also, frighteningly perhaps, a further 50,000 deaths due to Covid in the next four months.

"If there is one message to send out it must be that President Trump was 100% incorrect in his statements this week around flu and Covid and we must not let his words influence anything here."