- Risk of the virus to people without pre-existing health conditions and those under 60 has always been small
- But NHS England figures reveal that threat has become even smaller over time thanks to better treatments
- Healthy Brits account for 3 per cent of deaths, while those under 60 make up 5.9 per cent of overall fatalities
Coronavirus is killing fewer healthy and younger people in England now than it did during the first wave of the pandemic in spring, analysis shows.
The risk of the virus to people without pre-existing health conditions and those under the age of 60 has always been small, with the disease preying on the elderly and patients with weakened immune systems.
But NHS England figures reveal that threat has become even smaller over time, with experts claiming it is a sign that doctors have become better at treating the virus.
People with no comorbidities made up 5 per cent of 25,080 total Covid deaths in the first wave, defined as from the beginning of the pandemic in March to May 19, according to analysis by The Times.
Whereas healthy Brits with no known health woes accounted for only 3 per cent of the 12,125 Covid deaths in the third wave, between December 2 and January 6.
People under 60 made up 5.9 per cent of virus-attributed deaths during the winter wave, down from 8.7 per cent in the spring. Although the changes have only been by a few per cent, they have potentially saved hundreds of lives.
Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, told the newspaper: ‘If you think about the number of patients that it is, it’s not necessarily so small’.
The survival chances are thought to be higher now than at the beginning of the Covid pandemic because of the emergence of treatments such as the cheap steroid dexamethasone. Doctors are also more reluctant to put Covid sufferers on ventilators than they were in spring, after it became clear the machines made some patients worse.
However, people with underlying health conditions and those over-60 are still dying to the disease at a similar rate this winter compared to the spring. Professor Clarke said people with compromised immune systems ‘probably don’t respond as well’ to the new therapies.
And the NHS figures show that women and white people now account for a higher proportion of deaths than they did in the first wave. For women the rate has risen from 39 to 43 per cent and for whites it has climbed from 84 to 89 per cent.