For the sixth week in a row the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported deaths below average in England and Wales.
For the week ending July 24 there were 8,891 deaths registered, which is 1.8 per cent below the five-year average (161 deaths fewer).
While it is the second week in a row to see a small increase in deaths overall, deaths registered with Covid-19 continue to trend steeply downwards with only 217 registered, a 26.4 per cent drop from the previous week.
Deaths in hospitals and care homes are now well below average. However, deaths in private homes continue to be significantly elevated, with 727 above average that week, of which only 24 were registered with Covid-19. Since the start of the outbreak there have been a breathtaking 21,260 additional deaths at home, of which only 2,371 were registered with Covid-19, leaving 18,889 of other causes and in need of explanation.
Researchers from Sheffield and Loughborough universities have analysed ONS data and estimated that 21,544 additional deaths during the first eight weeks of the lockdown alone were caused not by Covid-19 but by the conditions of the lockdown itself.
Despite this, a smaller proportion of the UK population has died so far in 2020 than died in the 1999-2000 flu season, suggesting the almost completely unnoticed flu epidemic of that year was much more deadly than the Covid-19 outbreak has been so far in the UK. It remains to be seen if a Covid resurgence will make up the difference, though there is not yet any sign of an increase in serious cases or hospitalisations that would portend an approaching spike in the death toll.
Is it not much more likely that the epidemic is over, and we should be swiftly getting back to normal? Not cowering behind our muzzles but abandoning social distancing and getting on with building up any outstanding deficit in population immunity during the summer months when influenza is in abeyance? That is what a sensible population would be doing, one that hadn’t been terrorised into mindless compliance by an incompetent government witlessly following the dubious pronouncements of its over-cautious advisers.