As the UK has climbed the tables that count the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in each country, it has become obvious that it is one of the worst affected countries globally.
The UK has passed countries that suffered severe early outbreaks such as China, Italy and Spain in numbers of coronavirus deaths. Whilst the quality of official data varies dramatically between countries, the only assessment for the UK governments’ response to the pandemic is now poor.
As the UK government has rightly pointed out, however, the true test of the damage done will come from the statistics that measure the total number of excess deaths above the usual average. By that measure, according to the ONS, the UK has now exceeded 55,000 additional deaths since the beginning of the year.
How other countries have fared in this regard remains to be seen but undoubtedly the UK is struggling under the weight of the virus. Slow efforts to introduce track and trace programs, and incomplete lockdown methods haven’t helped.
PHE Covid case estimate dwarfs the official figure
Whilst the official number of confirmed cases in the UK is around 246,000, Public Health England’s (PHE) estimates suggests that in England alone the total number of people that have or have had Covid-19 is now in the region of 6.5m.
This figure is both bad and good news. This means that the case fatality rate of Covid-19 is actually less than the official figures suggest – somewhere in the region of 0.5%, rather than 14.1%. But it does also mean that there is still a huge portion of the population that have no immunity to the disease.
This figure of 0.5% is seen in modelling from Spain and New York too and seems to be a generally reliable indication of the death rate of Covid-19 in developed nations. The concern is that this figure was produced under conditions where the healthcare system was able to cope.
Health officials worldwide worry about the eventual case fatality impact in developing nations.