Last year was the most deadly non-pandemic year for excess deaths – those above the five year average – since the Second World War.

Research published tomorrow (Sunday) by scientists at Oxford University shows that while cancer and dementia deaths have fallen, deaths from heart and circulatory problems are spiralling.

This includes deaths from heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and lung clots.

The scientists say the rise cannot be accounted for by an ageing or growing population.

Next week will see a debate in Parliament when MP’s will call for the government to investigate the problem, with numbers rising since the pandemic.

The new study, based on government figures, shows there were 595,789 deaths last year of which 53,000 were considered ‘excess’ or ‘extra’. This is based on a five year average of deaths before Covid.

By comparison there were 82,000 and 60,000 extra deaths during the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 respectively.

This equates to 1,000 additional deaths each week during 2023, surpassing the total of 50,200 excess deaths in 2022.

Last year there were 100,000 more deaths than there were in 2011, the report shows – the highest figure recorded in a non-pandemic year since the Second World War.

Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, West Yorkshire, who will speak at next week’s debate in Westminster Hall said: “These are not just numbers and statistics, but real people, loved ones, often from younger age groups, who are dying before their time. The government should commit as a matter of urgency to a thorough investigation into the causes.”

According to the study only 12 percent of the extra deaths last year were linked to respiratory infections such as Covid or influenza. The largest rise was heart failure which saw a 16 percent jump – accounting for almost 10,000 extra deaths last year.
There was also an 8.5 percent increase in deaths due narrowed heart arteries, accounting for nearly 9,000 extra deaths and a 14 percent rise in deaths blamed on liver diseases such as alcoholic related liver damage, accounting for more than 2,000 extra deaths last year.

At the same time there were 6,500 fewer deaths from lung diseases such as asthma – a drop of 14 percent – and 11 percent fewer deaths from dementia and Alzheimer’s – the equivalent to a fall of 10,500 deaths compared to the five year average.

Professor Carl Heneghan, Director of the Centre of Evidence Based Medicine at the University of Oxford who co-authored the study said: “These figures are a real cause for concern. These deaths cannot be explained by covid, population growth nor an ageing population.

“It is the primary responsibility of the government to understand the drivers of this huge rise. The government has failed to investigate this problem. This is completely unacceptable.”

Dr Aseem Malhotra, a leading cardiologist said: “The most common cause of excess deaths relate to the heart and circulatory system. These have many causes that may interact. Eighty percent of this is linked to lifestyle and environmental factors, such as worsening diet, sedentary lifestyles and stress which we know happened during lockdowns.”

Adverse reactions to the MRNA Covid vaccine could also have played a part, he said.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “There are a wide variety of factors contributing to excess deaths, including high flu prevalence, the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 and health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, which did not get picked up during the pandemic. We are taking steps to help reduce excess deaths, including those which involve COVID-19 and vaccines remain the first line of defence.”

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