It comes as no surprise to know that coronavirus cases in the UK have been steadily rising over the last few weeks. However, compared to the start of the pandemic death rates are actually falling. A recent study suggests that there are three reasons why.
Over the last few weeks Britain, as well as the rest of Europe, have seen a rising increase in coronavirus cases. But notably, this recent spike has been proven to have less deadly effects than the original outbreak back in March.
The number of positive cases in the UK peaked in April but since July the numbers have again been crawling back up to levels recorded in mid-June. However, despite there always being fewer deaths than infections there has not been a corresponding increase between the two in over six weeks.
Actually, hospital admissions and deaths due to covid-19 have reached record lows in Britain. In the week ending August 21st hospitals admitted just over 84 covid patients a day which is less than any stage of the pandemic so far.
In the same week, the UK Department of Health and Social Care recorded 6.7 new deaths per day, leaving deaths at their lowest recorded number since the beginning of the pandemic.
According to the Office for National Statistics, coronavirus related deaths are actually at the lowest they have been in 20 weeks.
Why are there fewer coronavirus fatalities?
Health experts are citing three main reasons why fewer people who test positive for the virus are getting seriously ill and even fewer are dying and it all comes down to testing, improved treatment and the ages of people who are contracting the virus.
As time has gone on access to coronavirus testing has hugely increased. Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia stated:
Back in March and April we were mainly testing people who were really ill and more likely to die. Now the programme is catching a much higher proportion of infections with mild or no symptoms.
The second reason for the declining coronavirus deaths is improved medical care. Not only have medical workers experienced a breakthrough in treating hospitalised covid patients with steroids such as dexamethasone, but healthcare workers are also much better versed in assessing which patients should be in the hospital and which should recover from home.
There is also a difference in the ages of people contractive the virus now compared to back in March. Although the virus can cause death in younger patients, severe complications are more likely to occur in the elderly. Professor Hunter stated:
In the first wave of the epidemic the elderly were the main driver of the disease, particularly in care homes. That is no longer the case.
Compared to a few months ago the people now contracting the coronavirus tend to be much younger. Since mid-May, people who could not work from home were encouraged to return to work leading to a rise of cases among the UK's working population.
According to data published by Public Health England, in the week ending August 16th, a quarter of new cases of the virus were among people in their 20's. Now, there are as many cases among people under 40 than there were in the entire population when it reached it's low point of new infections just weeks ago.
There of course are other factors that may contribute to the decrease of deaths but many have been proven to be rather controversial such as genetic mutation and seasonality.
But, even if there are fewer fatalities and serious complications it's always best to remember to wear your mask and practise social distancing.