Data out of the United Kingdom show that unexplained deaths occurring at home are nearly nine times higher than COVID-19 deaths, stoking fears that people are not seeking treatments in hospitals.
“This is what concerns me so much. Excess deaths are below average in hospitals, but well above average in homes. Are people seeking the medical help they need for illnesses that aren’t coronavirus? Disruption to diagnosis, treatment, and research will cost countless lives,” the dean of medicine at the University of Buckingham, Karol Sikora, told the Telegraph.
The Office for National Statistics shows that there were 830 excess deaths at home during one week at the start of September compared to the five-year average of deaths.
Data on deaths in the U.K. over the last eight weeks also show that 1,117 people died due to the coronavirus, while there were 5,556 excess deaths, “suggesting the coronavirus response is now far more deadly than the virus,” according to the Telegraph.
“This could be deaths that would normally be happening at home, in which case this could be good (people dying at home on their own terms), or it could be bad, with people dying in pain at home unable to access appropriate palliative care,” Colin Angus, a senior research scientist at the University of Sheffield, said.
“To be honest, I find it very surprising there hasn’t been more attention paid to this, since it seems a pretty fundamental shift in how we are dying, and it doesn’t look like a short-term effect.”
Experts are estimating that the stoppage on cancer operations when the virus first hit the country could cause cancer deaths to rise by 20% in 2020.
“The impact this time could be catastrophic — we are set to lose even more people from cancer and other serious conditions than as a result of the first wave. We cannot afford to stop surgery yet again — we must open these COVID low-risk environments as more delay in diagnosis and treatment of patients with other illnesses apart from COVID could be devastating,” the president of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Michael Griffin, said.