nninety-six deaths; Ninety-six lives lost. This week, the UK’s daily coronavirus death toll rose to its highest number since March. Now, grieving families are speaking out to remind the public that these are not just statistics, and to urge people to get vaccinated and continue to take precautions.
Since the UK reported no coronavirus deaths on June 1 for the first time in nearly a year, another 1,114 deaths including 73 were reported on Wednesday, suggesting amid mounting cases the vaccination program has weakened but The link between infection and mortality was not broken. The total number of those who have lost their lives due to the pandemic now stands at 128,823.
For families who have lost people to the virus, Joe Goodman, co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said that “the last few weeks have been some of the saddest” as restrictions were lifted across England.
Bereaved families are well aware that those who continue to die from the pandemic are not just statistics but people who leave behind a world of grief, misery and pain for their loved ones. “We must not allow them to be forgotten,” she said.
Carla Hodges, 35, said the new wave of Covid has torn her family apart. Her stepfather Leslie Lawrence, 58, died at home from the virus on July 2 and her mother ended up in the hospital.
Leslie, a musician who used to play in bands, did not have underlying health conditions and thought he could survive Covid because the death rate was so low. He has not been vaccinated.
Leslie, who grew up in Hertfordshire and moved to Dorset, first met his wife at school and met her later in his life, and they have an 11-year-old son. “He didn’t believe in vaccinations,” Carla said. “My mother didn’t get vaccinated either, even though she had underlying health conditions like diabetes.” She said her mother was now seeking an injection, adding, “She’s so lucky to be still here.”
The government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said this week that about 60% of people admitted to hospital with Covid are not immune. While more young people contract Covid and are hospitalized than the first wave, 3% of the deaths between May 28 and July 9 were among those under 40, 17% were aged 40-59 and 80% were between 60 and above.
“Covid has ripped the family apart,” Carla said. “Nurses and doctors told my mom: ‘With Covid, there is no disease in the textbooks and everyone reacts differently.
“I know that not being vaccinated is a huge regret for my mother. I was embarrassed to tell the hospital staff that she did not get an injection.” She said her mother is now struggling with rent payments and funeral costs, and a crowdfunding page has been launched. “Send a message to everyone: stabbed you,” Carla said.
British Airways pilot Nicholas Synnott was delighted when he left intensive care in the US after 243 days and returned to his home in Surrey believing he had won his battle with Covid. He punched in the air and hugged the medical staff as he left.
But Synnott died in June, 15 months after he first contracted the virus, flying to Houston, Texas, from Heathrow. Cenote, 60, has reportedly suffered multiple organ failures at the hospital and that his wife, Nicolas, 54, spends every day at his bedside.
Brendon Jones died of Covid at the age of 33 on July 13 after a brief battle with the disease. He was also not vaccinated because he suffered from agoraphobia and was struggling to organize transportation to get the vaccine.
Brendon, who lived with his parents, woke up one day looking sick. “He started coughing at first. His mother, Hayley Jones, said he didn’t usually get sick, but with this, he got weak very quickly. It started with vomiting and diarrhea and then he had chest pains and his breathing was sluggish. His throat was closing up.”
She called 111 and spoke to an ambulance crew, but even though her son was gasping for air, he was told he didn’t need paramedics, she said. He remained at home for the next few days, unable to move until he began to drift and passed out and an ambulance was called again. This time he ended up in intensive care. A few days later he died.
His mother described her son as a “nice and shy boy outside his family”. His world came alive online and he had a passion for video games. When he died, his mother said she was touched by people who told her how much his family meant to Brendon.
“His death would leave a huge gap…Brendon led a different kind of life to base but it was his life. He accepted everyone as they are and friends and family accepted him. For this, he will always be remembered.”
Hayley said her son does not have other health conditions and that people should be aware that young people can catch the virus and die from it. “Brendon didn’t believe in imposing a vaccine on people and that everyone had a choice but he believed in it and wanted it for himself,” she said.
Additional reporting by Niamh McIntyre