Deaths from Covid-19 accounted for a fraction over one third of all deaths in England and Wales in one week, according to the Office of National Statistics. The Health Secretary did reveal encouraging news about a UK vaccine.

There were 18,516 deaths in the UK in the week to April 10th. Of the deaths registered, 6,213 mentioned novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This accounted for 33.6 per cent of all deaths. This was 7,996 more than the five year weekly average. In London, Covid accounted for 53.2 per cent of all deaths.

The number represented a 2,129 increase on the week before, when Covid-19 accounted for 21.2 per cent of deaths.

You can’t read too much into one week’s total, but given that not all deaths caused by the virus mention Covid in the death registration, it may not be unreasobale to assume that the true Covid related death number relates more closely to the number of death that exceeded the average — 7,966. If this is correct, then Covid may have counter for around 43 per cent of all UK deaths.

At today’s Covid-19 press briefing, the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock said that the best way to defeat the virus is via a vaccine. He said that two leading contenders for such a vaccine are from teams at Oxford and Imperial universities.

Mr Hancock said that the government is making £22.5mn to Imperial to support phase two trials of the potential vaccine it has developed, and then begin work on a large phase three trial. He is also making £20mn available to the Oxford team and their potential vaccine will be trialed in people on Thursday.

He added that simultaneously the government is investing in manufacturing capacity so that as soon as a vaccine is available, it will be possible to make it as quickly as possible for the people of the UK.

At the press briefing, he also said that so far there have been 535,342 tests, 129,044 have been positive, 18,681 Covid patients are now in hospital and 17,366 people have died.

It was also revealed at the press briefing that that number of Covid patients in hospitals in London has declined, but that in other parts of the country the number has plateaued.