The Official Estimate of the Collateral Deaths due to UK Government imposed Lockdowns and Restrictions on medical treatment in England.

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Friday saw the publication of the Government’s assessment of direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 on excess mortality and morbidity. The Daily Mail has the details:

More than 100,000 people are likely to die from non-coronavirus causes because of the pandemic, according to an official Government estimate.

By the end of next month the chaos in hospitals and care homes will have led to 46,000 avoidable deaths, Department of Health research has suggested.

Cancellations to routine operations may cause 18,000 excess deaths in the long-term, on top of hundreds more from cancer.

Officials calculated that over the next few years another 40,000 people may die due to the economic impact of lockdown, including rising unemployment and mental health issues.

The Government paper says the overall death toll of the pandemic will be 222,000, with 54% dying from the virus.

Overall, scientists suggest there will be 105,000 additional deaths because of the enormous disruption to non-Covid NHS care, as well as the economic downturn.

The document, dated December 17th and published yesterday by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), was drawn up by civil servants at the Department of Health, the Office for National Statistics and the Home Office.

It laid bare the unintended consequences of lockdown in detail, but stressed that the overall death toll would be far higher without the draconian restrictions.

So far more than 103,000 people in the UK have died after testing positive for COVID-19. 

Without lockdown, another 97,000 would have died from this winter alone, the report said.

The document also suggested the number of virus deaths could reach 122,000 by the end of next month…

The research supports a series of warnings from health charities that non-Covid patients are becoming “collateral damage” of the pandemic.

It said that plummeting non-Covid hospital admissions led to 4,000 excess deaths early in the pandemic, when many people avoided A&E even when they were suffering a heart attack or stroke. 

Continuing disruption to emergency care could lead to a further 10,000 deaths in the second wave, the document said.

The cancellation of operations and outpatient appointments could cause 18,200 deaths.

And the impact on GP services could result in at least 1,400 deaths over five years from missed cancer diagnoses, according to an early estimate which only examined figures up to August.

Excess deaths from non-Covid among adults receiving social care could hit 32,000 by the end of March due to reduced support and a rush to discharge vulnerable patients from hospital.

The report illustrated how even with a successful vaccination programme deaths are likely to remain well above pre-pandemic levels for years.

Of the 222,000 toll, 61,000 deaths were estimated to take place after this March.

The report said that the health impact of the ensuing recession is likely to be much worse than previously feared because “the bounce-back and recovery are likely to be at a slower pace than previously predicted”.

When assessing the Government’s claim that the Covid death toll would be roughly twice as high absent the three lockdowns, it’s worth remembering that Sweden’s deaths per million in 2020 were bang on the EU average in spite of not imposing any lockdowns last year. That suggests the lockdowns imposed in every other EU member state did nothing to reduce Covid mortality.

The report itself goes into more detail.

Under our central scenario there is a loss of approximately 1.3 million QALYs as a consequence of this pandemic induced recession. These health losses are largely accrued in the medium to long-term, with the morbidity affects largely falling in the medium term and the resultant mortality impacts falling in the longer-term. Under the upside scenario, there is an estimated 0.23 million QALY loss in the medium and long-run and under the downside scenario, there is an estimated 2.7 million QALY loss in the medium and long-run from COVID-19

Overall, our analysis suggests that the recession resulting from COVID-19 and restrictions on activities to contain it could have large effects on lives through unemployment, mental health impacts, loss of income and increased financial uncertainty. These impacts are likely to have medium and long-term consequences on population health in terms of increased morbidity and mortality

This analysis also presents an increase in the impact of the recession on medium and long-term health compared to our previous update. This is because more recent economic forecasts suggest the bounce-back and recovery are likely to be at a slower pace than previously predicted, and therefore the health impacts from the economic downturn accumulate over a longer period of time than previously considered.

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