More than 100,000 people have died from coronavirus in the UK since the disease first appeared in the country almost a year ago, in what public health experts said is a sign of “phenomenal failure of policy and practice”.
On Wednesday the daily figure for recorded deaths was 1,564 – a new record high bringing the total to 101,160, according to analysis of figures from government and statistical agencies. The toll far exceeds some of the worst-case scenario estimates made during the first wave of the pandemic.
It comes amid warnings that the toughest weeks of the crisis are yet to come and that Britons are facing an epidemic of grief for lost relatives and loved-ones, with many forced to mourn alone amid lockdown measures and curbs on funerals.
Almost one in every 660 people in the UK have died from Covid or Covid-related causes so far during the pandemic – or about one-in-six of all deaths. The UK has one of the worst coronavirus mortality rates in the world, at 151 per 100,000 people.
Even by the lower government figure – which only measures deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test – the UK is now ahead of the US, Spain and Mexico, where there have been 116, 113 and 108 deaths per 100,000 people respectively.
The figures are also in stark contrast to counties that have maintained low case and death rates, including Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia where death rates per 100,000 people stand at 0.03, 0.5 and 3.6.
Gabriel Scally, a visiting professor of public health at the University of Bristol and a member of the Independent Sage group of experts, said the 100,000-plus death toll was an indictment of the way the pandemic had been handled.
“It is an astounding number of preventable deaths from one cause in one year, [an] absolutely astounding number. It’s a sign of a phenomenal failure of policy and practice in the face of this new and dangerous virus,” Scally said.