Covid is killing fewer healthy and under-60s in England than in first wave

Coronavirus is killing fewer healthy and younger people in England now than it did during the first wave of the pandemic in spring, analysis shows.

The risk of the virus to people without pre-existing health conditions and those under the age of 60 has always been small, with the disease preying on the elderly and patients with weakened immune systems.

But NHS England figures reveal that threat has become even smaller over time, with experts claiming it is a sign that doctors have become better at treating the virus. 

People with no comorbidities made up 5 per cent of 25,080 total Covid deaths in the first wave, defined as from the beginning of the pandemic in March to May 19, according to analysis by The Times.

Whereas healthy Brits with no known health woes accounted for only 3 per cent of the 12,125 Covid deaths in the third wave, between December 2 and January 6.   

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People under 60 made up 5.9 per cent of virus-attributed deaths during the winter wave, down from 8.7 per cent in the spring. Although the changes have only been by a few per cent, they have potentially saved hundreds of lives.  

Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, told the newspaper: 'If you think about the number of patients that it is, it's not necessarily so small'.

The survival chances are thought to be higher now than at the beginning of the Covid pandemic because of the emergence of treatments such as the cheap steroid dexamethasone. Doctors are also more reluctant to put Covid sufferers on ventilators than they were at in spring after it became clear the machines made some patients worse.

However, people with underlying health conditions and those over-60 are still dying to the disease at a similar rate this winter compared to the spring. Professor Clarke said people with compromised immune systems 'probably don't respond as well' to the new therapies.

And the NHS figures show that women and white people now account for a higher proportion of deaths than they did in the first wave. For women the rate has risen from 39 to 43 per cent and for whites it has climbed from 84 to 89 per cent.

Even though healthy and young people appear to have better survival chances now than last spring, it should be noted that the analysis only looked at one month for the third wave, compared to three months for the first. 

It is possible that by February, the death rate for people in these categories may climb and match that of the first wave. Professor Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said it was 'too soon' to draw firm conclusions from the figures.

Meanwhile, those with comorbidities appear to be dying at a slightly higher rate than in spring - making up 96.7 per cent of winter Covid deaths compared to 94.9 per cent of the victims in spring.

A similar story has played out in the over-80s, who have accounted for 58 per cent of the deaths this time around compared to 53 per cent in the first wave.

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For those aged between 60 and 79 survival chances have increased. People in this group made up 36 per cent of fatalities in the last month, down from 39 per cent in the spring.

The Times' analysis also found that men, who have been disproportionately dying the disease, have seen survival rates improve - from 61 per cent to 57 per cent - with women now dying at a higher rate than in spring.  

It comes as MailOnline analysis suggested Britain could suffer 120,000 coronavirus deaths by the time ministers can safely ease restrictions because enough of the country has been vaccinated.

But experts believe another 25,000 deaths are already baked into the tally because of cases that occurred over the last three weeks, which is roughly how long it can take infected patients to become severely ill and succumb to the disease. Whitehall sources fear the figures could hit as high as 2,000 a day. Another 15,000 could die from infections caught between now and the end of February, even if the UK manages to halve the size of its outbreak

But experts believe another 25,000 deaths are already baked into the tally because of cases that occurred over the last three weeks, which is roughly how long it can take infected patients to become severely ill and succumb to the disease. Whitehall sources fear the figures could hit as high as 2,000 a day. Another 15,000 could die from infections caught between now and the end of February, even if the UK manages to halve the size of its outbreak

Department of Health statistics show the UK’s official Covid death toll currently stands at 82,000 – half of which have

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