Coronavirus UK news – Covid no longer leading cause of death thanks to our incredible vaccine rollout slashing cases

Coronavirus is no longer the leading cause of death in the UK thanks to our incredible vaccine rollout.

The virus had topped the list in England and Wales since October, but in March numbers began plunging dramatically, new figures show.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death in both countries that month, accounting for 9.2% of all fatalities registered in England and 6.3% in Wales.

The virus was the leading cause of death each month from November to February.

The leading cause of death in March was dementia and Alzheimer's disease in England, accounting for 10.1% of all deaths registered that month.

In Wales, ischaemic heart disease was the leading cause of death in March, accounting for 11.8% of all fatalities.

Read our coronavirus live blog below for the latest news and updates…

  • Alice Fuller

    GRADUATE TOOK OWN LIFE AFTER 'LOSING PURPOSE' IN LOCKDOWN

    A graduate took her own life after "losing her purpose" and having job offers withdrawn during the Covid lockdowns.

    Jodi Walsham, 23, found herself "in a very bad place" in January after losing two offers of work as her mental health deteriorated.

    The 23-year-old from Humshaugh, Northumberland, had suffered anxiety since childhood – but the lack of structure in her life caused by the lockdown took its toll, her mum said.

    She studied drama and applied theatre at Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, which fostered her love for helping people – but Covid restrictions stopped her from pursuing her passion.

    Her heartbroken mum Jayne told Chronicle Live: "If she was helping people she had a purpose in life, and Covid took that away. If it wasn’t for Covid-19 I’m convinced she would still be with us – it just took everything away and she couldn’t see the end of it."

  • Alice Fuller

    'TWO THIRDS OF OVER-70S IN ENGLAND FULLY VACCINATED'

    Around two thirds of people in England aged 70 and over are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, figures suggest.

    An estimated 67.1% of people in this age group had received both doses of the vaccine as of April 18.

    For people aged 80 and over the figure is 83.3%, while for 75 to 79-year-olds the estimate is 78.3%.

    Some 42.7% of 70 to 74-year-olds are also likely to have had both doses.

    The figures for vaccinations were published by NHS England, and have been combined with population estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

  • Alice Fuller

    'STEP BY STEP' OUT OF LOCKDOWN

    Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster has said the region is moving "step by step" out of lockdown restrictions on the eve of the next relaxations which will see close-contact services reopening.

    Speaking in Cookstown, Co Tyrone, she said next week will see the reopening of non-essential retail as another step towards "allowing people's lives to get back to normal again".

    Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said it is very heartening to see young people outdoors again.

    "These are the days we have been looking forward to. There are better days ahead but we just need people to still be careful," she said.

  • Alice Fuller

    THREE IN FOUR BRITS PROUD OF UK VACCINE ROLLOUT

    More than three quarters of Brits are proud of the UK's Covid vaccine rollout, new research reveals.

    This rises to nine in 10 for those over the age of 65, according to the study by Norstat.

    Some 38% of people say the programme has improved their perceptions of the government’s handling of the pandemic, while half say it has remained unchanged.

    Rob Agnew, managing director of Norstat UK, said: “The vaccine rollout has been viewed as a huge success by overwhelming majority of people in the UK, which is leading to a shift in public perception of the Government’s handling of the pandemic."

  • Alice Fuller

    CHANCE OF DYING FROM BLOOD CLOT AFTER AZ JAB 0.00015%

    The chance of developing a deadly blood clot from the AstraZeneca Covid jab is just 0.00015 per cent, new figures reveal.

    While 21.2million Brits have had the Oxford vaccine, 168 rare blood clots have been recorded – and of those, 32 people have died, UK regulators said.

    The Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) published their latest findings today, noting there is a 19 per cent fatality rate in those who develop blood clots with low platelet counts, after the jab.

    It comes after a review recommended under-30s be offered different shots as a "course correction" after the MHRA found a "reasonably plausible link".

    But with just over 33.1million people already having their first Covid vaccine, and 10.7million their second, the risks are very small.

  • Alice Fuller

    44.4MILLION JABS ADMINISTERED IN UK

    A whopping 44,450,252 jabs have been given in the UK, according to the latest figures.

    Of these, 33,257,651 were first doses – a rise of 117,909 on the previous day.

    Some 11,192,601 were second doses, an increase of 416,784.

  • Alice Fuller

    PFIZER CONFIRMS FAKE VERSIONS OF COVID VACCINE

    Pfizer has confirmed there are fake versions of its Covid vaccine in Poland and Mexico.

    The doses were seized by authorities in both countries and confirmed by tests to be counterfeit, the BBC reports.

    The versions in Mexico had false labels while the substance in Poland was believed to be an anti-wrinkle treatment, Pfizer said.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that fake vaccines "pose a serious risk to global public health".

    The Wall Street Journal reported 80 people at a clinic in Mexico received the fake version of the vaccine. Officials in Poland said the false drug there had not been given to anybody.

  • Alice Fuller

    COVID DEATHS HALVE IN A WEEK

    Covid deaths have almost halved in a week in a 40 per cent drop – with 18 fatalities reported today.

    There have been 2,729 new cases logged in the UK in the last 24 hours, with the total now at 4,395,703.

    Last week there were 30 new deaths and 2,672 more cases reported.

    Yesterday 22 deaths were reported, with 2,396 more cases added to the infection total since the pandemic began.

  • Alice Fuller

    SOCIAL MEDIA USE LINKED TO LOWER RISK OF DEPRESSION IN OLDER PEOPLE

    Frequent use of social media has been linked to mental health benefits for older people in a new study.

    The research, by the University of Surrey, found that among people aged 55 to 75, those who used the internet more often – particularly for staying in touch with friends and family – were at lower risk of depression and reported a higher quality of life.

    And participants who mostly used the internet to search for health-related information reported higher levels of depression symptoms.

  • Alice Fuller

    COVID TESTING COULD BE HERE TO STAY

    A study of "breakthrough" cases suggests that Covid testing could be here to stay.

    This is due to the fact that even those who are fully vaccinated against the virus can develop it.

    New research by The Rockefeller University in New York suggests these kinds of cases may be driven by rapid evolution of the virus, therefore indicating that widespread and ongoing testing, even of immunised people, will be critical in preventing future outbreaks.

    The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, studied those who were fully vaccinated with either the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine.

  • Alice Fuller

    JOINT VOTE OF VACCINE PASSPORTS COULD 'FRACTURE' TRUST

    The Government could "fracture" MPs' trust beyond repair if members are given just one vote on the combined use of vaccine passports domestically and internationally, a senior Conservative has warned.

    Chairman of the Covid Recovery Group of backbench Tory MPs Mark Harper urged ministers to denounce reports that MPs will receive one vote on whether to approve the use of jab certification for both foreign travel and social activities within the UK.

    He added that such "shenanigans" would "fracture the trust that many members have in the Government".

    But Paymaster General Penny Mordaunt told MPs she was "fairly confident" that suggestions of a joint vote on both domestic and international passports could be ruled out as they are "very distinct issues".

  • Alice Fuller

    THREE COVID DEATHS IN SCOTLAND IN LAST 24 HOURS

    Three coronavirus deaths have been recorded in Scotland in the last 24 hours, according to the latest statistics.

    It means the death toll under the daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – is now 7,646.

    The statistics show 231 people tested positive for coronavirus in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases in Scotland since the start of the pandemic to 224,596.

    A total of 1.1% of tests for Covid-19 came back as positive.

    There are 93 people in hospital with Covid-19 and 12 people are in intensive care.

  • Alice Fuller

    BRITS PILE ON 10LB OF FLAB OVER THE PAST YEAR

    Millions have put on lockdown weight — with the average gain being 10lb (4.5kg), a study says.

    Comfort eating seems the main cause with three quarters of adults saying they have felt more stressed in the past year. Some 64 per cent also admit to drinking more alcohol.

    The study by Well Pharmacy suggests up to 23million Brits have become flabbier.

    Some 73 per cent want to shed pounds to help their health and esteem.

    Pharmacist Amul Mistry, from Well, said: “Our results are concerning. People have not had access to support groups that would usually help. We urge everyone to come and get professional guidance and support.”

  • Alice Fuller

    1M CLINICALLY VULNERABLE STILL WAITING FOR SECOND DOSE

    Despite 92% of people classified as clinically extremely vulnerable receiving their first dose of coronavirus vaccine, there are nearly a million people waiting to receive a second dose of coronavirus vaccine, new figures suggest.

    Data from NHS England shows that around 2.1 million people in this group had received a first jab by April 18, with nearly 1.1 million of them having had a second.

    This leaves an estimated 985,679 waiting for their final dose.

  • Alice Fuller

    92% OF CLINICALLY VULNERABLE HAD FIRST DOSE

    Some 92% of people classified as clinically extremely vulnerable had received their first dose of coronavirus vaccine by April 18, NHS England figures show.

    It is the fourth week in a row it has stood at this percentage – with the number of first doses rising to 2,074,611 from 2,053,493 by March 28.

    The proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in an "at-risk group" or who are unpaid carers to have received a first jab by this date was 80%, the data shows.

    People are identified as at risk or a carer in a number of ways, including through GP records, those receiving carer's allowance or on the GP Learning Disability Register, and those identified as unpaid carers by local authorities, NHS England said.

    People included in these figures may have been vaccinated as part of another high-priority group such as the clinically extremely vulnerable or healthcare workers, it added.

  • Alice Fuller

    'MIXED MESSAGES' OVER EVENTS AFTER LOCKDOWN

    Conservative former minister Steve Brine has said that businesses, including in the hospitality and wedding sectors, are being given "mixed messages" about events after lockdown and has argued that festivals should be allowed to take place.

    He told the Commons: "The best way we can help them is to let them trade. They haven't been able to because of the pandemic. Either we believe in the vaccine or we don't.

    "And after June 21 when we have passed freedom from the regulations, Boomtown Festival in my constituency has had to be cancelled this summer, it's due to take place in August.

    "There's no reason whatsoever that that should happen, except that the messages they're getting are mixed and no-one is sure whether ministers actually believe in the vaccine. Does the minister at the box?"

  • Alice Fuller

    CONTINUED

    Jade Bone, 24, who passed in Southampton, said the consequences of failure were "quite frustrating and a scary prospect, especially because it's an expensive thing to do, having lessons".

    Rob Fenn, an instructor at RED Driving School, said tests are "essentially fully booked" due to pent-up demand.

    He is advising eager students to "sit at a computer and keep refreshing the page".

    The DVSA said it is offering an additional 2,500 car tests per month by utilising weekends and bank holidays.

    Up to 300 new examiners are also being recruited to help reduce the backlog.

  • Alice Fuller

    LEARNER DRIVERS EXPRESS 'HUGE WAVE OF RELIEF' AT PASSING TESTS AMID BACKLOG

    Learner drivers who passed when tests resumed today have expressed relief at avoiding the need to wait several months for another opportunity.

    The cancellation of more than 450,000 tests in Britain due to the pandemic means the waiting time to book a slot is 17 weeks, according to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), putting learners under huge pressure to pass.

    AA Driving School pupil Jack Hayes, 25, took a test in Cardiff and was among the first learner to pass once the suspension was lifted.

    He described how his "nerves hit an all-time high" and he "felt a huge wave of relief" at the result.

    Mr Hayes said he is "so grateful" that he does not need to "worry about booking another test in almost six months' time".

  • Alice Fuller

    EU SUING ASTRAZENECA

    Europe has launched a legal case against AstraZeneca over its "complete failure" to meet delivery and contractual agreements – despite months of its own indecision over vaccine rollout.

    The legal challenge has been started by the European Commission against AstraZeneca, said Ireland's health minister.

    Speaking to the Irish parliament, Stephen Donnelly said on Thursday: "With regard to AstraZeneca, a legal case has been initiated by the Commission.

    "Earlier this week I have joined Ireland as one of the parties to that legal case, specifically around AstraZeneca's complete failure to meet its delivery and contractual agreements for April, May and June."

  • Alice Fuller

    PARENTS CONFIDENT BUT CAUTIOUS ABOUT VACCINES FOR KIDS

    Half of British and American parents are keen to get their kids vaccinated whenever possible, according to new research.

    But in the study of 3,203 parents in the UK and 23,852 in the US, Piplsay found a quarter of parents in both countries are worried about the long-term impact of vaccines on their child's development.

    And dads are more keen than mums when it comes to getting their children jabbed against the virus.

  • Alice Fuller

    THREE QUARTERS OF SOCIAL CARE STAFF HAVE HAD FIRST JAB

    Almost three quarters (72.3%) of social care staff in England working in independent Care Quality Commission-registered younger adult care homes and domiciliary care providers have received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, NHS England said.

    For social care staff working in other settings in England, including non-registered providers, the figure is 69.4%.

    Some 89.1% of residents at younger adult care homes in England had received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by April 18, NHS England said.

  • Alice Fuller

    COVID CASES DOWN IN NEARLY ALL REGIONS

    Covid-19 case rates have fallen in nearly all regions of England except the south west where they remain broadly unchanged, according to the latest weekly surveillance report from Public Health England.

    In south west England the rate rose very slightly from 13.8 per 100,000 people in the seven days to April 11, to 13.9 in the week to April 18, but was still the lowest in the country.

    In Yorkshire & the Humber, the rate of new cases stood at 45.0 per 100,000 people – the highest rate of any region, but down from 61.2 the previous week.

    The East Midlands recorded the second highest rate: 28.1, down from 37.2.

  • Alice Fuller

    VACCINATED PEOPLE 'SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO HUG AND TRAVEL'

    Vaccinated people should be allowed to hug, ditch face masks, and be exempt from strict travel rules, EU medical chiefs have declared.

    Europe's health agency said those who have had both jabs should be exempt from some social distancing and testing requirements.

    The new research, by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, provides hope life can swiftly go back to normal.

    It says the risk of a young or middle-aged unvaccinated person catching Covid from someone who has been jabbed is "very low to low".

    And that likelihood only rises to "moderate" for the elderly or those with underlying conditions.

  • Alice Fuller

    NEW 'BENGAL VARIANT'

    A new coronavirus variant has erupted in India and could be driving its surge in cases, experts have warned.

    Scientists say the new mutation – dubbed as the "Bengal Covid variant", could be more infectious than those already circulating across the country.

    Professor Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India today warned that running Hindu religious festivals or elections, with a combination of the new Bengal variant, could be down to the surge in cases.

    Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme he said: "Basically a double mutant was first reported from the state of Maharashtra, and that had features that were previously noted in Brazil and South Africa and then in California – and they combined to form the double mutant.

    "Another mutant has been described from the state of West Bengal it has also been found in some other parts in India. While the double mutant has now been noted in more than 20 countries, this mutant, the triple mutant which has just been described, has been tracked in India and I'm sure it will be tracked elsewhere too."

  • Alice Fuller

    FUNDING CAP LIFTED IN BID TO CLEAR COURT BACKLOG

    A funding cap on how many days judges can sit for hearings will be lifted in a bid to tackle the backlog of cases in crown courts.

    The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is removing the limit on sitting days for the 2021/22 financial year as part of efforts to clear the thousands of outstanding criminal cases waiting to be dealt with.

    The crown court backlog stood at around 40,000 in March last year but has been exacerbated by delays and court closures amid the coronavirus pandemic. It has since reached about 57,000, with some trials now being listed for 2023.

    Last month, a report by the MoJ said the proportion of criminal cases waiting more than a year to be dealt with by crown courts in England and Wales had "increased markedly" amid the pandemic.

    A spokesman for the MoJ said: "We are not setting a limit on the amount of sitting days allocated to the crown courts for the next financial year. This is part of a wider effort to maximise use of space and judicial capacity across the justice system. This will enable them to hold safely as many hearings as possible over the coming year as we continue to respond to and recover from the pandemic."

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