Prof Carl Heneghan, Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, added: “There is no doubt care homes need more resources in the future to make sure they are not disproportionately affected as they have been in this outbreak.
“The nature of this disease is that if a single infected person walks into a home you get sporadic outbreaks, and if you infect one person in a care home you can infect multiple people very rapidly.”
Gail Davey, Professor of Global Health Epidemiology at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, said excess mortality helps account for ‘knock on’ deaths – those which occurred because people avoided going to hospital.
“It is a useful way of looking at the whole picture,” she said.
“Right at the beginning, a precedent was set by counting the number of deaths ascribed to Covid in hospital, which was a very narrow band of deaths. There were a lot of people outside of hospitals who were never tested and still died of Covid.
“It looks like England is coming out as much worse than Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland probably because of London as an international hub.
The Government has said the only way to compare death tolls in different countries is through the excess death rate, and have stopped producing graphs comparing different countries’ trajectories.
Prof Davey added: “We should encourage the use of excess mortality statistics.
“It would be better to acknowledge the excess deaths and to use them to help the whole country get behind what still needs to be done for the next months.”