Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Chart of the Day
21 October 2021

How Covid-19 vaccines have dramatically reduced deaths

The ratio of deaths to total cases has changed from 3 per cent during the second wave to just 0.3 per cent last week.

By Nicu Calcea

The number of Covid-19 cases in the UK has risen sharply in recent weeks, with Health Secretary Sajid Javid warning that the daily figure could hit 100,000. Despite that, and despite calls from doctors to reimpose some restrictions such as mandatory masks, health minister Edward Argar has insisted the NHS is not yet under “unsustainable pressure”.

The health service has been aided by the UK’s vaccine rollout, with over 86 per cent of Britons aged over 12 having received at least one jab. This has led to a drastic fall in the number of Covid-19 deaths since May this year compared with the second wave of coronavirus in September last year.

Vaccines are preventing thousands of Covid deaths
Weekly new Covid-19 cases and deaths by week since the start of each wave
Weekly cases and deaths by week since the start of the second Covid-19 wave (Sep 7, 2020) and most recent wave (May 24, 2021)
Source: Our World in Data

The chart shows how the Covid-19 case fatality rate – the ratio of deaths to total cases – has changed from 3 per cent in the 21st week of the second wave to just 0.3 per cent last week.

While these are encouraging figures, there is now evidence of waning immunity from the vaccines, meaning the share of cases that end in hospitalisation or death could rise again. Without the threat of restrictions, uptake of booster shots has been much slower than of the initial vaccines. 

Ruth Rankine, the director of primary care at the NHS Confederation, echoed this sentiment: “Whilst people may feel that things are back to normal, you just have to look at the numbers to know that we are still at the height of Covid. My concern is that a lot of the public don’t seem to realise that.”

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Content from our partners
How do we secure the hybrid office?
How materials innovation can help achieve net zero and level-up the UK
Fantastic mental well-being strategies and where to find them