More than 80,000 people have died in the UK within 28 days of a positive Covid test, official figures show.
The total number of lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK has now also exceeded 3 million, according to the government’s dashboard, though the true figure of people who have been infected is likely to be much higher.
The 3 million figure has been passed just three weeks after cases passed 2 million on 19 December.
The 1 million lab-confirmed case mark was reached on 31 October, although the government did not start mass testing until May and there were lengthy issues following this.
A further 1,035 deaths following a Covid test in the UK were reported on Saturday, taking the total to 80,868. The number of people who tested positive for coronavirus increased by 59,937.
Only the US, Brazil, India and Mexico have recorded more Covid deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 95,000 deaths involving Covid in the UK.
Intensive care medics are struggling to deal with more patients than at any time over the last four winters as the second wave of Covid infections escalates rapidly.
The rate of excess deaths in 2020 was the highest rate since 1940.
As the vaccination rollout continues, Susan Michie, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) member and professor of health psychology at University College London, said on Saturday that the current lockdown was “too lax”.
“We have the winter season and the virus survives longer in the cold, plus people spend more time indoors and we know aerosol transmission, which happens indoors, is a very big source of transmission for this virus,” she said.
“And secondly, we have this new variant which is 50-70% more infectious. You put those two things together, alongside the NHS being in crisis, we should have a stricter rather than less strict lockdown than we had back in March.”
However, there have also been calls for urgent action to level up public health amid stark inequalities.
The NHS doctor and campaigner Dr Phil Hammond tweeted: “My lesson of the year is that we were very ill-prepared to manage the pandemic, and to mitigate the harms of our pandemic management. That’s because we are a hugely unequal society where the poorest die a decade sooner, and suffer 20 more years of disease. And that was before Covid.”