COVID caused more deaths last year in England and Wales than any other infectious disease in a century

Ross McGuinness
·2-min read
The 'Act Like You've Got It' coronavirus campaign advert in London. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
The Office for National Statistics said more than 73,500 people died from COVID-19 in England and Wales last year. (PA)

More people died from COVID-19 last year in England and Wales than from any other infectious disease in any previous year since 1918, figures have revealed.

According to data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Monday, 73,502 people died from coronavirus in England and Wales in 2020.

The ONS said this means COVID-19 was the underlying cause of more deaths last year than any other infectious and parasitic diseases caused in any year since 1918.

The chart below shows there were more deaths from COVID last year than any other infectious diseases since 1918.

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That year there were more than 89,900 deaths from various diseases.

The ONS also said that more than 140,000 people have now died from COVID-19 across the UK.

In addition, there were almost 4,400 further deaths registered in England and Wales in 2020 from infectious and parasitic diseases.

The previous peak had been nearly 8,200 deaths from those types of diseases registered in 2007, a year that saw a spike in deaths in England from C. difficile.

Watch: UK death toll rises by 64

In its report, Coronavirus: A Year Like No Other, the ONS said the number of adults in critical care in hospitals in 2020 was far higher than in previous winters, and that for many industries the fall in job vacancies had been larger than during the 2008 economic downturn.

The ONS also revealed on Monday that, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, sweatpants and hand sanitiser have been added to the model basket of goods for calculating inflation.

Hand sanitiser has become a must-have item for Britons since last spring, while casual clothing was added to the basket as those working from home abandoned formal office wear and about 10 million people were placed on furlough at least once during the year.

“The pandemic has impacted on our behaviour as consumers, and this has been reflected in the 2021 inflation basket of goods,” said Sam Beckett, head of economic statistics at the ONS.

“The need for hygiene on the go has seen the addition of hand sanitiser, now a staple item for many of us.

“Lockdown living has seen demand for home exercise equipment rise, while spending more time within our own four walls has also encouraged us to invest in smart technologies.”

Watch: How England will leave lockdown