Covid deaths in over-80s fall 79% in five weeks, ONS stats show

9 March 2021, 20:54 | Updated: 10 March 2021, 14:00

The coronavirus vaccine appears to be reducing deaths in the over-80s
The coronavirus vaccine appears to be reducing deaths in the over-80s. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Weekly deaths involving coronavirus in the over-80s have fallen 79% in five weeks in England and Wales, figures show.

There were 1,118 Covid-19 deaths in adults aged 80 and over in the week ending February 26, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

This is a fall of more than three-quarters since the week ending January 22, when 5,326 deaths involving coronavirus took place in this age group, according to the latest analysis.

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Experts say the "dramatic" fall in deaths in this age group is likely to be down to vaccination.

Deaths in adults aged 75 to 79 have also dropped 79% over the same period, while for 70 to 74 year olds the fall was 76%.

Some deaths in the latest week may not have yet been fully recorded but the fall in Covid-19 deaths among the over-80s up to the previous week was still significant, at 66%.

Adults aged 80 and over were included in the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation's second priority group for the vaccine, followed by those aged 75 and over, and 70 and over.

Doses were first offered from early December.

By mid-February, the Government said it had offered the jab to everyone in these groups.

A total of 2,914 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending February 26 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, a drop of 29% on the previous week.

The figure is the lowest total since the week ending December 25.

Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics, The Open University, said the numbers of deaths "are falling, and falling pretty rapidly".

He added: "It's impossible to tell from these data how much of this age difference is due to vaccination, but surely it must be having a real effect."

David Leon, professor of epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, has been tracking deaths where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate in hospitals in England among different age groups.

He said: "What one sees is this very dramatic fall in deaths amongst people over 80, which has been going down much more steeply than it did in the first wave for sure.

"And the remarkable thing, as far as I'm concerned, is what one sees is that now the number of deaths which are occurring in age 80-plus is actually the same as occurring in age 60 to 79.

"And that's the first time that has happened at this level of mortality since the beginning, since March 2020."

He added the most likely explanation for this is vaccination.

Just under a quarter (23.1%) of all deaths registered in England and Wales in the week to February 26 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate.

Some 636 care home resident deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales were registered in the week to February 26, down more than a third (34%) on the previous week, the ONS said.

A total of 40,991 care home residents in England and Wales have now had Covid-19 recorded on their death certificate since the pandemic began.

The figures cover deaths of care home residents in all settings, not just in care homes.

All regions of England recorded a week-on-week fall in the number of Covid-19 deaths registered in the week to February 26, the ONS said.

Overall, 145,647 deaths had occurred in the UK by February 26 where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, the ONS said.