AS many people are dying of coronavirus in care homes and at home as in hospital, an expert has warned.
Putting his "neck out", Cambridge University Professor, Sir David Spiegelhalter said community deaths could be "like-for-like" with hospital deaths – meaning the true toll is much higher.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
Experts said mislabelling on death certificates and a lack of "traditional" symptoms as well as fear of hospitals, could be driving up community deaths.
It comes as new figures published today by he Office of National Statistics (ONS) showed the official death toll is likely to be more than 50 per cent higher than NHS figures.
Reflecting on the new stats, Sir David said there has been a "shift of deaths from hospitals to communities".
He said the number of people now dying at home of coronavirus could be like-for-like, compared to those dying in hospitals.
Tonight, Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed that the daily official death toll will now include all deaths in care homes and the community from tomorrow.
The daily death toll hit 21,678 today, as 161,145 people have so far tested positive for coronavirus, according to the Department of Health.
But the ONS figures suggest that number could be nearer 32,000 when all deaths outside of hospital are taken into account.
Sir David said: "I would put my neck out and say there are now as many Covid-labelled deaths occurring out of hospital than there are occurring inside hospitals in England."
He said around 1,400 people died at home of coronavirus between April 7 to April 17. Meanwhile, in the week leading up to April 17, 3,096 people died of coronavirus in care homes.
Care homes are recording around 300-400 deaths a day from coronavirus, Sir David added.
He also said there had been thousands more "excess deaths" than the UK normally has per year – around 3,000 in the week ending April 17, some of which are likely from coronavirus.
"Over a quarter of excess deaths did not have Covid mentioned on their death certificate, that amounts to 3,000 more than we expect," he said.
"Which is a lot given the average (excess deaths) in a year would be 10,000 normally."
"I'm not yet willing to say what proportion of these deaths that would have otherwise occurred in hospitals and happened anyway, what proportion of deaths of these would not have happened (at all) and which of these are an under-diagnosis of people not being labelled (as having) Covid."
Scared of hospitals
University of Oxford Professor Carl Heneghan said elderly people tended to display symptoms of coronavirus very late, or very differently, compared to younger people with healthier immune symptoms, leading to under-reporting.
He said: "In the elderly temperature tends to be a very late sign, and if you think about it young children have (high) temperatures because they have a very active immune system.
"In the elderly the immune system takes some time to crank up, traditional symptoms and signs are often absent and there is a plausible potential that some people will have COVID-19 and not display any of the signs we're looking for."
He said symptoms such as loss of appetite could be "devastating" for elderly people and cause underreporting of deaths by coronavirus.
Prof Heneghan said there was a worrying phenomenon of excess deaths, which could have been caused by people being afraid to go to hospitals.
But, he added, some of those deaths will also be mislabelling of coronavirus.
Prof Heneghan said: "We've got 4,100 deaths, far more deaths in the home setting for non-covid deaths and that's concerning.
"What's happening there is it could be mislabelling but it could also be an impact of people not seeking care."
NHS is open for business
The Government has gone to great lengths to stress that the NHS is "open for business" for anyone who needs it.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned anyone with urgent health concerns should not be afraid of going to hospital
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty has said the ultimate death toll from coronavirus will be higher because of "indirect deaths" caused by people with other health conditions not getting the treatment they need.
Give now to The Sun's NHS appeal
BRITAIN’s four million NHS staff are on the frontline in the battle against coronavirus.
But while they are helping save lives, who is there to help them?
The Sun has launched an appeal to raise £1MILLION for NHS workers. The Who Cares Wins Appeal aims to get vital support to staff in their hour of need.
We have teamed up with NHS Charities Together in their urgent Covid-19 Appeal to ensure the money gets to exactly who needs it.
The Sun is donating £50,000 and we would like YOU to help us raise a million pounds, to help THEM. No matter how little you can spare, please donate today here: www.thesun.co.uk/whocareswinsappeal.
CORONAVIRUS CRISIS – STAY IN THE KNOW
Don't miss the latest news and figures – and essential advice for you and your family.
To receive The Sun's Coronavirus newsletter in your inbox every tea time, sign up here.
To follow us on Facebook, simply 'Like' our Coronavirus page.
Get Britain's best-selling newspaper delivered to your smartphone or tablet each day – find out more.
Source: Read Full Article