CORONAVIRUS was the 19th most common killer in September and accounted for 1.7 per cent of all deaths.
New figures also reveal the death rate for coronavirus patients has increased for the first time since the peak of the outbreak in April.
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The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) report, published today, does not feature Covid-19 in the 10 leading causes of death in September.
In England, coronavirus was the 19th most common cause of death, and in Wales it was 24th.
Of the 39,827 deaths registered in September in England, 1.7 per cent, or 690 deaths, involved coronavirus, and in Wales the figure was 1.3 per cent of the 2,610 deaths, or 35 fatalities.
The ONS analysis included only deaths with an underlying cause of Covid-19, referred to as “due to Covid-19”.
This is different from deaths “involving Covid-19”, which includes those where the virus is mentioned anywhere on a death certificate.
DEATH RATE RISE
Meanwhile, the data also shows that the death rate for coronavirus patients has increased in England for the time since the peak of the outbreak.
The age-standardised mortality rate in September due to Covid-19 was 12.6 per 100,000 people in England.
This is up from 7.2 per 100,000 in August and is the first increase since April, the ONS said.
The figure is still significantly lower than the peak of the virus in April when it was 623.2 deaths per 100,000 people, the data showed.
The ONS said: “In September 2020, the number of deaths and mortality rate due to Covid-19 remained significantly below levels seen in March 2020 – the first month a Covid-19 death was registered in England and Wales.
“However, the mortality rate due to Covid-19 was significantly higher in England in September 2020 compared with the previous month, August 2020.
“The mortality rate due to Covid-19 also increased in Wales, but this was not significant.
“This is the first increase in the mortality rate for deaths due to Covid-19 from one month to the next since April 2020.”
In Wales the age-standardised mortality rate in September due to Covid-19 was 10.8 per 100,000 people in Wales – 97.8% lower than the rate of 495.1 in April, the ONS said.
The figures also reveal that most causes of death are lower than the five year average.
Prof Kevin McConway, a statistician at the Open University, said: “The most common cause of death is dementias and Alzheimer’s disease, which is typical for this time of year, and indeed this has been the leading cause of death over the whole year since 2015.
“In England, the death rates from most of the top 10 causes are actually lower than the 5-year average, though in most cases the difference is too small to conclude that things have really changed.
“The biggest difference is in deaths whose underlying cause was influenza and pneumonia, where the death rate was 27.7 per cent lower than the 5-year average. That’s a really big drop.
“The ONS statisticians suggest that this may have happened because deaths from influenza and pneumonia, that would have occurred throughout 2020, may have occurred earlier, in April or May, at the height of the pandemic.
“That’s certainly a possibility, but maybe it’s not the only one.
“Most deaths from influenza and pneumonia are in older people, who may be more likely to be careful with social distancing, mask wearing, and other measures intended to reduce the risk of Covid-19.
“The same measures are also likely to reduce the risk of influenza, and so may have contributed to the lower death rate from this cause.”
NEW CASES DOUBLE
It comes as separate ONS data, also published today, shows that the number of new daily Covid infections across England has doubled in a fortnight.
Data from the ONS’s infection survey estimates there was an average of 35,200 new coronavirus cases per day in the community in England between October 10-16.
This is up 26 per cent from an estimated 27,900 new cases per day for the period from October 2-8 and just over double the 17,200 new cases per day from September 25 to October 1.
The ONS said the rate of new infections “has continued to increase” in recent weeks.
The data does not include people staying in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.
According to the ONS, an estimated 433,300 people in England had coronavirus during the most recent week, equating to around one in 130 people.
It said: “There has been growth in Covid-19 infection rates in all age groups over the past two weeks including those aged over 70, with the current rates highest in older teenagers and young adults.
“The highest Covid-19 infection rates continue to be seen in the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the North East.”
Some 16,700 people in Wales were estimated to have had Covid-19 in the most recent week, equating to one in 180 people.
This compares to around one in 100 people in Northern Ireland and one in 180 in Scotland.
Whilst young adults and older teenagers continue to have the highest levels of infections, there are increases in all age groups including the over 70
Heather Bovillco-head of analysis for the Covid-19 infection survey
Heather Bovill, co-head of analysis for the Covid-19 infection survey, said: “The level of Covid-19 infections has increased in Wales and in all the regions within England apart from the South West.
“Within England, whilst young adults and older teenagers continue to have the highest levels of infections, there are increases in all age groups including the over 70.”
The ONS noted small reductions in the percentage of people testing positive for antibodies, which it said “could suggest evidence of antibody waning at the population level”.
However, it said it was “too early to say this with certainty” and more work would be carried out.
In England, an estimated 5.6 per cent of people have tested positive for antibodies against Covid-19 in a blood test in September.
Separate data from the Covid Symptom study app suggests there were more than 36,000 new daily cases in the UK over the two weeks to 18 October – up from nearly 28,000 the previous week.
The figures are based on app users logging their symptoms and whether they have had a positive test result.
It comes as the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which advises the Government, said the reproduction number, or R value, of coronavirus transmission for the whole of the UK has nudged down to between 1.2 and 1.4.
Last week, the group said the R number was between 1.3 and 1.5.
Sage said there “is still widespread growth of the epidemic across the country”.