The UK’s Covid ‘survival rate’ is lower than 99.972%

8 April 2022
What was claimed

99.972% of the UK population did not die of Covid-19.

Our verdict

Incorrect. About 99.76% of the UK population have not died with an underlying cause of death of Covid-19.

A chart being shared on Instagram claims to show the “Covid survival rate” for ten different countries, giving a figure for all of them of above 99.9%.

This is not correct. For the UK, where the true figure (using the chart’s definition of a “survival rate” which is the share of the population which has not died of Covid-19) is about 99.76%.

What does the chart mean?

In its heading, the chart says: “Instead of ‘death’ rate.. Let’s look at Covid ‘survival’ rate?? Here’s the percentage of ‘world population’ that have NOT died from COVID19”

The chart then lists figures for several countries, starting with the UK, for which it gives a rate of 99.972%. 

Data on the number of deaths with an underlying cause of Covid-19 isn’t published for the UK as a whole, and we don’t have timely data for all countries.

However. up to the end of February 2022, Covid-19 was registered as the underlying cause in 147,490 deaths in England and Wales.

To the end of March 2022, it was listed as the underlying cause of death for 11,812 people in Scotland, and to September 2021 (the most recent available data) it was listed as the underlying cause of death for 3,007 people in Northern Ireland.

This adds up to a minimum of 162,309 deaths with Covid-19 as an underlying cause in the UK, ignoring those that may have been registered since but for which we don’t have the data.

The UK population is around 67 million, meaning that the Covid-19 “survival rate” as defined in the post is, at most, 99.76%, not 99.97%.

You could also use a slightly wider definition of a Covid-19 death, to include all those with Covid-19 listed as a cause of death on their death certificate, not just those people who had it listed as an “underlying cause”. 

At the time of writing, the government’s coronavirus dashboard says that 190,053 people have died in the UK with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificates.This would mean the UK has had a “survival rate” of around 99.72%. 

The post also gives rates for other countries which are wrong.

It suggests 0.046% of Americans, 0.056% of Belgians, 0.044% of Spaniards, and 0.043% of Italians died from Covid-19. 

These figures are all around five times too small, according to Our World in Data, which puts the death rates at 0.3%, 0.27%, 0.22% and 0.26%, respectively. 

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