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COVID-19 has caused over three times more deaths than flu or pneumonia in England and Wales

Published on 08/10/20 at 12:45pm

Newly released data has revealed that COVID-19 has resulted in many more deaths than influenza or pneumonia in England and Wales throughout 2020, it has been reported.

According to the data, COVID-19 was involved in 52,327 deaths between 1 January and 31 August this year, and was the underlying cause in 48,168 of these deaths. This is compared to 13,500 deaths as a result of pneumonia and just 394 deaths as a result of influenza over the same period.

Ultimately, COVID-19 was responsible for 12.4% of all deaths in England and Wales during the examined period.

The findings released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) help lay to rest the widespread myth that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is no more deadly than the common flu. The ONS figures show that the virus caused around 122 times more deaths than influenza alone during the examined period, though this is not a clear reading of the data as many cases of pneumonia are originally induced by contracting the flu virus.

According to FullFact, it can be said that influenza or pneumonia contributed to 1.3 times more deaths than COVID-19, but COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death in 3.4 times more cases than flu or influenza.

The findings run contrary to claims by national newspapers including The Sun and The Daily Mirror, which both reported in August that the flu had consistently killed up to six times more than COVID-19 over the summer months.

In deaths where all three conditions were listed on the death certificate, COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death in 95.8% of cases, compared to 0.04% or just eight deaths as a result of influenza and pneumonia.

Deaths as a result of flu or pneumonia were highest in January when the conditions are traditionally more prevalent, but COVID-19 deaths peaked during the March to June period.

"The mortality rate for COVID-19 is also significantly higher than influenza and pneumonia rates for both 2020 and the five-year average," said Sarah Caul of the ONS commented alongside the release of the data. "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."

Matt Fellows

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