The growing evidence on lockdown deaths

20 October 2020

11:30 PM

20 October 2020

11:30 PM

That the lockdown had a terrible impact on the nation’s health — in ways other than just Covid-19 — is becoming clearer by the day. But just how bad was it?

According to a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, delayed and cancelled breast cancer treatments will cause between 281 and 344 additional deaths. For colorectal cancer, there were an extra 1,445 to 1,563 deaths, lung cancer an additional 1,235 to 1372 deaths and 330 to 342 more oesophagal cancer deaths.

A University of Leeds study estimated that there have already been an extra 2,085 deaths from heart disease and stroke as a result of people not accessing timely medical help. A study by the University Hospital of Northern Tees reveals that the number of endoscopies — used to investigate and diagnose bowel cancer — fell to just 12 per cent of their normal level between 24 March and 31 May

The National Blood and Transplant Service looked at the period between 23 March and 10 May and found that, compared with the same period in 2019, the number of organ donors fell by 66 per cent and the number of transplants fell by 68 per cent. This year, 87 people died while waiting for an organ transplant, compared with 47 last year.

According to the ONS, an extra 25,472 people have died at home than would otherwise be expected from the average past five years — some of them, no doubt, would have died even if they had reached hospital, but not all. Meanwhile, the NSPCC has reported that calls to its helpline averaged 8,287 in May compared with 5,593 in early March, as children were shut away at home with their abusers.

These are just a few of the effects of lockdown, and of the poor messaging that led to many people failing to seek medical attention. These numbers will eventually have to be balanced against the lives potentially saved by the lockdown. <//>

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