The UK has become the first country to “live with the virus” and its death rate is lower than that of influenza

Novel coronavirus is now less deadly than flu in the UK, thanks to its mildness and high immunisation rate, according to the latest official figures. Before the outbreak of the highly contagious strain, the virus had a mortality rate of about 0.2 percent, according to the data. But it has since shown a sharp decline and is now stable at around 0.035% (Figure 1), the same level as influenza (blue area of Figure 1).

Figure 1 Death rates from COVID-19 infection in the UK from September 2021 to February 2022

Mortality rates in Britain have fallen steadily, largely because of vaccination and the development of antibodies in infected people. In the context of the rapid global push to vaccinate the entire population against COVID-19, the UK government had already introduced booster shots for people aged over 50 before the omicron strain spread last year, which greatly increased the rate of antibody against COVID-19 in the UK.

In January 2021, when the government first launched the vaccination campaign, the DEATH rate in the UK was just over 1%. In July 2021, the figure fell to 0.1%; During the transmission of the Omicron variant, the mortality rate decreased approximately threefold, significantly dropping to 0.035% (Figure 2). According to the latest figures, 35 deaths per 100,000 omicron infections, compared with 40 deaths for the same number of influenza infections; Even among those 80 and older, the death rate from omicron infection dropped to 0.05%, also lower than the flu fatality rate in the same age group.

Figure 2 new British crown fatality rate change (source: [1] | drawing: biological discovery editors)

Statistical analysis shows that this is the first time since the outbreak, and the death rate of COVID-19 is “relatively lower than that of seasonal flu”, achieving a stage victory of “co-existence with COVID-19”. Previously, due to the dual impact of Brexit and the outbreak of COVID-19, the UK’s economic development suffered a heavy blow. In 2020, the UK’s economy shrank by 11.5%, making it the most severely affected economy among developed countries. It is urgent to change the status quo and put the economic development back on track. On this occasion, Britain has tried to return to normal life. The UK government is expected to lift all quarantine restrictions against COVID-19 in the coming days, including PLF and testing requirements for unvaccinated travellers. The UK is expected to take advantage of Easter to boost flight bookings and reap a wave of economic benefits from tourism.

But while optimistic, scientists warn that this positive trend could be reversed at any time in the future with the emergence of a new virus variant.

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