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© REUTERS / Henry NichollsJust 851.2 people per 100,000 died last month - the lowest figure since the ONS started recording mortality rates in 2001
The proportion of people dying in England fell in April to its lowest level since records began, figures from the Office for National Statistics show.

Just 851.2 people per 100,000 died last month - the lowest figure since the ONS started recording mortality rates in 2001. At the height of the first wave of the Covid pandemic last April, death rates were 1,859 per 100,000.

Comment: Note that above the 'first wave' and the increase in mortality also coincides with the first lockdown that actually began a few weeks before. This seems to confirm what SOTT cautioned against back in March 2020: that it is the lack of access to primary healthcare - not the coronavirus - will result in a surge in mortality.

The latest figures show that 38,899 people died in April - 6.1 per cent fewer than the five-year average.

Just 2.4 per cent of all deaths mentioned Covid on the death certificate, a 77.6 per cent decrease from March and the largest month-on-month decline since the pandemic began.

Comment: At the beginning of the government fomented hysteria, mislabeling deaths as coronavirus became commonplace, so this isn't a reliable metric.

The new data provide more evidence that the NHS is in little danger of being overwhelmed in the near future, with deaths from most causes lower than normal. Covid is now the ninth most common cause of death in England and Wales, behind conditions including heart disease, dementia, several cancers and influenza.

Comment: It's probably a little more complicated than that, because whilst the NHS was struggling to cope before, it was never really in danger of being overwhelmed by the coronavirus - the government's own stats prove that.

Instead, there is the concerning possibility that this record fall in mortality could be the calm before the storm. And there are a number of compounding harms caused by the lockdowns that, when combined with the mass, experimental vaccination campaigns, could contribute to this surge in mortality, and they include: depressed immune systems following nearly a year of confinement, coupled with a lack of herd immunity to the coronavirus and other viruses, with experts highlighting the flu as possibly being problematic; the accumulated and additional stressors brought about by the economic devastation and the 'new normal'; the backlog in primary healthcare, that, by itself, could cause the deaths of tens of thousands.

Latest figures from King's College London's symptom tracker app also suggest that Covid case rates are flat, despite the Indian variant making up an increased percentage of cases.

Last week, the ZOE Covid Study team estimated that there were 2,750 new infections per day in the UK, compared with 2,782 the previous week.

Experts believe the risk of a Covid infection is currently one in 17,205, falling to one in 31,184 after a first vaccine and one in 41,579 after a second.

Although there are localised hotspots in which the Indian variant is spreading, it is not leading to rising case numbers overall, according to King's data, which tends to be a more up-to-date measure of the state of the pandemic than other figures.

Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College, said the team was monitoring the variant closely, but there was nothing to suggest that the NHS was in danger of being overrun or that the lockdown release would need to be postponed.

"So far, we see only localised outbreaks or hotspots," he said. "Not only in Bedford and Bolton, which we saw a week ago, but our data shows Newport in Wales, Glasgow and neighbouring areas like East Dunbartonshire or Lanarkshire in Scotland, Aberdeen, Leeds and neighbouring authorities like Kirklees and Wakefield too.

"We noticed the same trend previously with outbreaks of the South African and Brazilian variants, but these remained local and didn't translate into wider cases countrywide. We also saw similar rates last summer in the Midlands, which never produced widespread outbreaks. I expect to see rates stay at similar levels for a while.

"There's no clear evidence yet that the new Indian variant is significantly worse than the old Kent one. While the outbreaks remain localised and UK numbers are steady and most cases appear mild, it's highly unlikely to cause the NHS to be overrun or stop us coming out of lockdown.

"So no need to panic, but do stay vigilant and keep logging with the ZOE Covid Study app to stay ahead of the curve and help us monitor outbreaks like these."

Prof Andrew Hayward, an infectious diseases expert at University College London, said he was "very concerned" about the variant and believed it could cause a third wave.

However, Prof Steven Riley, whose group at Imperial College has been monitoring infection rates since the start of the pandemic, said it only looked as though the Indian variant was replacing the Kent mutation in some areas.

"That's all we know. What we don't yet know is exactly how much more transmissible it might be," he said.

The latest update from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), also suggests admissions and deaths continue to decline. Based on NIESR modelling, by June 21, when step four of the lockdown easing is due, cases are expected to have fallen to 1,200 a day, admissions to below 100 and daily deaths to well below 25.

Comment: Lockdown restrictions are being relaxed and deaths are falling: Reuters: Sweden had 10% lower 2020 death spike than much of Europe

Dr Craig Thamotheram, NIESR senior economist in macroeconomic modelling and forecasting, said: "It is reassuring that the weekly case rate per 100,000 is smaller than 50 in all regions and nations. However, evident localised outbreaks have the potential to seed a new wave. The extent to which these flare ups are contained will be key in the weeks ahead."

Latest data show Bolton has seen a big increase in vaccination rates in the under-50s, with 29.5 per cent now having a jab compared to 29.3 in England - an increase of 4.5 per cent. Public Health England's weekly surveillance report shows 71.8 per cent of people in England now have antibodies to Covid, either through vaccination or a prior infection.