UK death rate over 22,000 higher than expected and health chiefs dont know why

An unexplained surge in Britain’s death rate has left health chiefs baffled with over tens of thousands more deaths than expected.

There have been over 22,000 more deaths recorded by the NHS between April and August this year than the five-year average for the same period – around 10% more than the national average.

Michael Murphy at the London School of Economics says that while the reason for the spike in the death rate is unknown, “ it is very likely that something substantial is happening”.

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Death rates appear to have remained at winter-time levels throughout the Summer.

A spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care told New Scientist: “Analysis is ongoing, however early investigation suggests circulatory diseases and diabetes may be partly responsible for the majority of excess deaths.”

Long Covid, the extreme Summer heatwave, and increased pressure on the NHS as a knock-on effect from two years of cancelled appointments have all been put forward as contributory factors.

Adrian Boyle, from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, who doesn’t think that the medical appointments cancelled because of lockdowns can be the only cause, said: “It takes time to die from cancer, it takes time to die from heart failure.

“These are all things that may have got worse during lockdown, but I’m not sure that is going to be driving the sudden and precipitous increase that we’ve seen in deaths this year.”

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Deaths from cancer and dementia, are currently tracking at around normal levels.

But deaths from heart disease, heart failure and circulatory diseases have all been recorded in higher numbers than expected.

Numbers of deaths from diabetes, the urinary system, and respiratory infections are also higher than average, although the respiratory infection deaths of course include Covid-19.

Despite the fact that most people appear to have forgotten about it. Covid-19 has not gone away.

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Around 13,000 of the excess deaths for the April-August period have been put down to a renewed coronavirus outbreak – but that still leaves almost 10,000 deaths unexplained.

A recent article in scientific journal Nature suggests that the risk of death from cardiovascular conditions is significantly higher in the month following a Covid-19 infection.

With a bitter winter of soaring energy bills ahead, the true cost of the pandemic may not be known for many years to come.

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