People aged 80 and over are accounting for more deaths involving coronavirus (Covid-19) in England and Wales than at any point since December 2020, new analysis shows. However, the number of deaths in the current wave of the virus remains well below levels reached during the second wave last winter.
Some 856 of the 1,355 of deaths that occurred in the week ending 21 January 2022 and which mentioned coronavirus on the death certificate were among over-80s – the equivalent of 63.2%. This is the highest proportion since the week to 18 December 2020, when it stood at 64.0% (2,115 of 3,306 deaths).
The proportion had dropped to nearly half this level during the summer of 2021, dipping to 37.9% in the week to 2 July 2021.
The figures have been compiled by the PA news agency using the latest data on deaths involving coronavirus from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). They show how the breakdown by age of people who are having coronavirus recorded on their death certificate has tilted back heavily towards the oldest groups.
It follows a period in November and early December 2021 when the over-80s and people aged 60-79 each accounted for around 43% of deaths. But a gap opened up sharply at the end of December and widened at the start of this year.
People aged 60 to 79 accounted for 30.7% of deaths in the week to 21 January 2022, compared with 63.2% of over-80s. The last time the gap was this wide was just before Christmas 2020, when the figures were almost identical (30.7% and 64.0% respectively).
The change coincides with the surge in coronavirus infections in December 2021 driven by the Omicron variant, which pushed the overall number of coronavirus deaths to their highest level since spring last year. However, the 1,355 deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales that occurred in the week to 21 January 2022 is still far below the 9,064 that occurred in the week to 22 January 2021.
The PA analysis has excluded the ONS data for deaths occurring in the week ending 28 January, as this is incomplete. Separate figures from the ONS show there were 1,385 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week to 28 January that mentioned coronavirus on the death certificate. This is down 7% on the previous seven days and is the first week-on-week drop so far this year.
Around one in nine (11.2%) of all deaths registered in the week to 28 January mentioned coronavirus on the death certificate.
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