COVID deaths in the elderly increase by a third in past month

·3 min read
CWMBRAN, WALES - OCTOBER 05:  A nurse administers a vaccine booster on October 05, 2021 in Cwmbran, Wales. Patients who attend the vaccine centre are also being offered the option of a flu vaccine. The Welsh Government has also announced that all 12 to 15-year-olds will be invited by letter to have the vaccine and the majority being administered at mass vaccination centres. In some areas, vaccination will be carried out at schools. (Photo by Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)
People have been urged to get booster jabs as COVID deaths in the elderly rise. (Getty Images)

Coronavirus deaths in people aged 60 and over have increased by a third in the past month in England, according to the latest government data.

The rolling seven-day death rate in this age group rose by 32% from four per 100,000 on 28 September, to 5.3 on 28 October, the most recent date for which full data is available.

In total, 2,603 over 60s have died of COVID in England in the month to 28 October.

It comes amid fears the insufficient speed of the booster rollout is leaving some vulnerable older people at risk.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 27: Members of the public queue outside The New Stalybridge Labour Club where a vaccination centre offering  COVID-19 booster vaccinations has opened on October 27, 2021 in Manchester, United Kingdom. The service was advertised as appointment only before members of the public arrived and were made to queue for up to one hour. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)
People queue in Manchester for COVID-19 booster vaccinations. (Getty)

What does the data say?

The death rate has increased steadily in over 60s in the last month, although the numbers are far lower than the peak in January, when the seven-day death rate in over 60s rose to 55.7 per 100,000.

Overall, the number of deaths involving coronavirus registered in England and Wales has risen for the second week in a row.

There were 792 deaths in the week ending 22 October that mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is up 11% on the previous week and follows a 7% rise a week earlier.

The daily number of new people who tested positive for COVID in England on Wednesday was 34,317, which brings the total to 7,794,507.

New cases have been dropping from around a peak of 48,000 a day in October but infection rates are still much higher than in most of Europe.

So far, 7,269,137 people have had a booster vaccine in England since the rollout began on 16 September.

On Tuesday, John Roberts, from the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, said six million people who are eligible for a COVID booster jab in England have not yet had one.

He warned the increase in the number of third doses given out has stalled in recent days, meaning booster coverage for the eligible priority groups will not be complete under mid-January.

Watch: Van-Tam warns 'too many people think pandemic is over'

What do the experts say?

Recent death rates have prompted a warning that COVID is “starting to penetrate into older groups”.

England’s deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, warned that while case rates have fallen, a rise in deaths and hospital admissions was “of concern to scientists”.

Reflecting on the figures and the recent drive for booster jabs, Van-Tam told BBC Breakfast: “My worry is that the deaths are increasing and that shows that the infection is now starting to penetrate into those older age groups.

“And that’s why the really key thing is that if you are called for your booster, if you are called for your flu vaccine, please go and get them – this could be really very important this winter, it is not the time to be complacent.”

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