The number of deaths involving coronavirus registered each week in England and Wales has risen slightly, but figures remain at a low level.
A total of 713 deaths registered in the week ending October 15 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
This is up 7% on the previous week, with every region in England except the South West recording an increase.
However, deaths are still well below the levels seen during the winter.
Some 8,433 deaths involving Covid-19 were registered in England and Wales in the week to January 29, at the peak of the second wave of the virus.
By contrast, the weekly total has been between 600 and 900 for the last two months.
The relatively low number of deaths in the third wave so far, when compared with the second wave of the virus, reflects the success of the rollout of coronavirus vaccines across the country.
Vaccinations in England are estimated to have prevented 127,500 deaths up to September 24, according to research by Cambridge University and the UK Health Security Agency.
However, there are still more people dying than normal for this time of the year.
The total number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week to October 15 was 13.9% above the pre-pandemic five-year average, the ONS said – the equivalent of 1,366 more deaths.
11,117 deaths were registered in England and Wales in the week ending 15 October 2021 (Week 41).
This was▪ 370 more than the previous week▪️ 1,366 (13.9%) more than the five-year average.
— Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) October 26, 2021
It is the 15th week in a row where the ONS has reported extra deaths, or “excess deaths”.
The number of excess deaths in private homes in England and Wales since the start of the pandemic now stands at 74,005, according to analysis by the PA news agency.
Of this number, just 8,692, or 12%, were deaths that involved coronavirus.
Overall, 165,213 deaths have occurred in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, the ONS said.
The highest number on a single day was 1,484 on January 19.
During the first wave of the virus, the daily toll peaked at 1,461 on April 8 2020.
Responding to the latest figures, Kevin McConway, Open University emeritus professor of applied statistics, said: “It wouldn’t be far wrong to say that numbers of Covid-related death registrations are varying somewhat around a roughly constant level.
“In the most recent week, over three-quarters (77%) of the Covid-related death registrations were of people aged 70 and over. That proportion has generally been increasing in recent weeks.
“Maybe this is a short-term statistical blip – we’ll see in coming weeks. But maybe it has something to do with some waning of the effectiveness of vaccines, which would show up first in older people because they were vaccinated first, and that would emphasise the importance of booster doses.
“Maybe it also has something to do with the move into colder weather having a greater impact on older people, perhaps particularly on those who are frail. These ONS figures can’t tell us what the causes of the increase actually are – if it even is a real increase as opposed to a short-term blip.”