“We’re seeing deaths under an average of 10 a week now from Covid, bearing in mind we’re going to be losing a lot more than that to heart disease and cancer and the like – well hundreds, I mean, hundreds more people – to both of those every single day, and that for some reason doesn’t make the headlines because only certain deaths count any more.”
talkRADIO presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer claimed on Friday that fewer than 10 people a week are now dying from Covid-19. This is untrue.
While the number of recent Covid-19 deaths remains relatively low, there are far more than 10 people dying each week from the virus in the UK.
When Ms Hartley-Brewer’s breakfast show aired on Friday morning, the most up-to-date available figures from the government (from Thursday 27 May) showed a seven-day rolling average of 8.6 Covid-19 deaths reported a day across the UK. In the week from 21 to 27 May, 57 people were reported dead within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test.
The number of people reported dead within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test is most commonly used as it gives a more recent picture of deaths from the virus than the figures from death certificates, which are more reliable but take much longer to collect.
As we have written before, claims that this measure of the number of deaths could include some people who died for other reasons are true, however, it also does not include people who did die of Covid, but died more than 28 days after their first positive test.
Ms Hartley-Brewer also said “hundreds more people” are dying of cancer and heart disease each day than are dying from Covid-19.
According to an analysis of deaths in England, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), ischaemic heart diseases were the leading cause of death in April 2021 (the most recent month available), with 4,144 recorded. Split simply between the 30 days in April, this equates to around 138 deaths from ischaemic heart diseases each day.
The ONS’ monthly data only ranks the top ten leading causes of death, and identifies each type of cancer individually, so not all are represented. However, the three types of cancer highlighted add up to 4,046 deaths. Again, divided by the 30 days in April, equates to almost 135 deaths per day.
In April 2021, the ONS figures show, there were 941 deaths caused by Covid-19, the ninth most common cause of death in England. Covid-19 remains the leading cause of death in 2021 as a whole so far.
According to the British Heart Foundation, an average of 450 people die from heart and circulatory diseases in the UK each day. Cancer Research UK gives a similar figure, stating that there are “more than 166,000” deaths from cancer each year in the UK equating to an average of 450 a day, though these numbers only cover the period from 2016-2018.
Full Fact contacted talkRADIO for comment, but did not receive a response.