‘Why do we have the worst death rate in the entire world?’ Piers Morgan skewers minister Brandon Lewis over new statistics showing that new UK Covid wave pushed deaths to 16.5 per million people in the UK

  • Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis was skewered by GM Britain host
  • UK averaged 935 daily deaths in week to Jan 17, which is 16.5 per million people
  • Mr Lewis tried to explain that it was not possible to directly compare countries 

One of Boris Johnson’s top ministers was taken to task by Piers Morgan today as he  refused to explain why the UK’s death rate is now the worst in the world.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis was skewered by the Good Morning Britain host over devastating new research by Oxford University experts.

Britain was averaging 935 daily fatalities in the week up to January 17, or the equivalent of 16.5 people in every million, according to it research platform Our World in Data. No other country currently has a higher death rate per capita.

Asked to explain the figures, Mr Lewis tried to explain that it was not possible to do a direct comparison between countries.

This prompted the excitable host to interrupt, saying: ‘With respect minister, as a government you have spent the last three weeks giving us direct comparisons about the vaccination programme, by comparing it to every other country.

‘We literally never hear you stop talking about it – and by the way you have got every right to, because we are doing very well.

‘But please don’t tell me you’re not in the business of international comparisons, because you stopped telling us how many people were dying by comparison to other countries many months ago, when the numbers got very bad. 

‘Yesterday the numbers came out and were the worst in the world. Given that you have been using international comparisons for weeks now about the vaccines I don’t think it is unreasonable to ask you why we have the worst death rate int he world

Mr Lewis tried to interrupt, saying ‘It is just too early to do those comparisons’ as Mr Morgan continued to search for an answer.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis was skewered by the Good Morning Britain host over devastating new research by Oxford University experts.

Coronavirus was the leading cause of death in England last year and accounted for one in eight fatalities, official data has revealed. 

An Office for National Statistics report published today found Covid-19 was responsible for 69,101 out of 569,770 total deaths in 2020 (12.1 per cent).  

The figure is slightly lower than the 78,076 on the Government’s dashboard because the ONS looks at cases where Covid was mentioned on the death certificate. The official tally counts people who died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus. Number 10’s figure will also be higher because it includes deaths from this January.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s were the second biggest killers in England in 2020, claiming 66,060 lives, while heart disease was behind 51,979 deaths. There were just 18,656 flu and pneumonia deaths last year, 40 per cent lower than average, which is thought to be the knock-on effect of social distancing measures.

The ONS report also found that in December, deaths from all causes were 25 per cent higher than the five-year average. Covid-19 was by far the biggest killer last month, claiming 10,973 lives. Covid killed more people than dementia, Alzheimer’s and heart disease combined (9,646).  

Near the end of the uncomfortable grilling Mr Morgan said: ‘I’ve tried. Viewers can make up their minds as to whether your response is adequate … viewers won’t understand, they’ll just see you avoiding the question.

Mr Lewis hit back, saying: ‘ I haven’t avoided the question, I’ve been upfront with you, Piers.’

‘You can’t think of a single reason why so many people are dying in this country,’ fired  at him. 

Britain overtook the Czech Republic, which had been at the top since January 11 with a death rate of 16.3, after publishing its latest death figures on Sunday night, when there were 671 victims.

Fatality statistics on the weekend and on Mondays in the UK tend to be lower due to a reporting lag, which means the country’s death rate could surge even further into the lead this week.

However there are signs that Britain’s crisis is starting to slow thanks to its third national lockdown. Infections are down by a fifth in seven days and deaths are expected to follow in the coming weeks.

Rounding out the top five countries with the worst death rates are Portugal (14.82 per million), Slovakia (14.55) and Lithuania (13.01). Panama is the only country in the top 10 list which is not in Europe.

Mainland Europe has become the epicentre of the pandemic since last October, accounting for around a third of global deaths.

The 52 countries and territories in the region have recorded an average of 5,570 deaths every day – 17 percent higher than a week earlier.

The US and Canada have counted 407,090 altogether and saw fatalities rise by 20 per cent last week at 869 average daily deaths.

More than 106,000 deaths involving Covid-19 have now occurred in the UK, new figures show.

A total of 99,813 deaths have so far been registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, according to the latest reports from the UK’s statistics agencies.

This includes 90,720 deaths in England and Wales up to January 8, which were confirmed by the ONS on Tuesday.

Since these statistics were compiled, a further 6,447 deaths have occurred in England, plus 146 in Scotland, 260 in Wales and 181 in Northern Ireland, according to additional data published on the Government’s coronavirus dashboard.

Together, these totals mean that so far 106,847 deaths involving Covid-19 have taken place in the UK.

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