The number of deaths involving Covid-19 registered each week in England and Wales has dropped by nearly a quarter, new figures show.
A total of 5,691 deaths were registered in the week ending February 12, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
This is down 22% from 7,320 deaths in the previous week, and is the lowest figure since the week to January 1.
Care home resident deaths involving Covid-19 have also fallen week on week, down nearly a third (31%) from 2,175 to 1,491.
The ONS figures are based on all deaths where Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate.
Coronavirus is recorded as the underlying cause in around nine in 10 of these deaths.
Figures for the whole of the UK confirm that Covid-19 deaths during the current wave of the virus peaked on January 19, when 1,447 deaths occurred.
During the first wave of the virus, the daily death toll peaked at the slightly higher number of 1,457 on April 8 2020.
A total of 138,468 deaths had occurred in the UK by February 12 where Covid-19 had been mentioned on the death certificate.
Separate data published by the Government show that, as of February 22, 120,757 people had died in the UK within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19.
Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University, said the latest ONS figures contains signs that could indicate an effect of the vaccine rollout, though it is difficult to be sure at this stage.
“The numbers of registered deaths involving Covid-19 fell by over a quarter in the most recent week, compared to the previous week, in people over 80 years old; by almost a fifth in those aged 70-79; but generally by rather smaller percentages in younger age groups where the vaccination rate, so far, is much lower,” he said.
“The larger percentage fall in the over-80s may well, in part at least, be an effect of vaccination.
“But even as vaccination effects become clearer and stronger, there will be some pressures in the opposite direction as lockdown restrictions are removed. That’s why we’ve got to continue to be cautious,” he added.
Analysis of the latest ONS data by the PA news agency shows that:
– There were 23 consecutive days of more than 1,000 deaths last month, from January 7 to 29. This mirrors exactly the number seen during the first wave, when 23 consecutive days of more than 1,000 deaths were recorded from April 2 to 24.
– While the record for the highest daily death toll was set during the first wave of the virus, the volume of deaths has been greater in the second wave. Using the end of August 2020 as a dividing line between the first and second waves, 57,678 deaths took place in the first wave, while 80,790 deaths have so far taken place in the second wave.
– There were 33,179 deaths involving Covid-19 in the four weeks to February 1 2021 – the highest number to occur in a four-week period since the start of the pandemic. In the four weeks to February 12 the number was 28,290.
– A total of 39,386 care home residents in England and Wales have had Covid-19 recorded on their death certificate since the pandemic began. The figures cover deaths of care home residents in all settings, not just in care homes.