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Number of positive coronavirus tests peaks – as COVID-19 becomes third most common cause of death

Written by on 19 November 2020

Coronavirus was the third most common cause of death in England and Wales in October – having not been among the 10 leading causes of fatality the month before.

The Official for National Statistics (ONS) has said 3,367 (7.8%) of the 43,265 deaths in England last month involved COVID-19.

There were also 2,713 more deaths in England than the five-year average for October.

There were 2,992 deaths registered in Wales in October – 258 more than the five-year average.

The figures for England and Wales show mortality rates for deaths due to coronavirus have increased for the second month in a row.

It comes as the government’s weekly Test and Trace figures show a total of 167,369 people tested positive for COVID-19 at least once in the week to 11 November.

This is the highest weekly number since the system was launched at the end of May and is 11% up on the previous week.

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In the ONS figures, the age-standardised mortality rate for deaths due to COVID-19 in October was 63.5 deaths per 100,000 people in England and 81.9 deaths per 100,000 people in Wales.

The age-standardised death rate in England in September due to COVID-19 was 12.6 per 100,000 people.

It was 10.8 per 100,000 people in Wales.

The rate is a weighted average of the age-specific mortality rates per 100,000 people.

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Although mortality rates due to COVID-19 increased in October, they remain significantly lower than in April and May.

The leading cause of death in October was dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, accounting for 11.3% of all deaths in England and 10.2% in Wales.

The second most common cause of death in October was heart disease.

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There have so far been 448,579 overall deaths in England in 2020 – 37,873 more than the five-year average for January to October, according to the ONS.

There have been 29,018 deaths in Wales – 1,419 more than the five-year average.

COVID-19 was the underlying cause of 50,012 deaths that occurred in England (11.1%) and 2,629 of all deaths in Wales (9.1%) from January to October 2020.

This week’s government Test and Trace data shows that of those who tested positive, some 60.5% had their close contacts traced. This is unchanged from last week.

Oxford University has said its COVID-19 vaccine produces a strong immune response in older adults.

The phase one and phase two results suggest that one of the groups most at risk of death or serious illness from COVID-19 may be able to build immunity, according to data published in The Lancet medical journal.