The proportion of people dying in England fell to another record low in May, as Covid became only the 24th leading cause of fatalities, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Just 748.6 people per 100,000 died last month, after mortality rates fell even lower than April when 851.2 people per 100,000 died – the lowest it had been since records began in 2001.

At the height of the first wave of the Covid pandemic last April, death rates were 1,859 per 100,000.

Latest figures show that there were 35,401 deaths registered in England, which was 4,252 fewer than what would have been expected based on the five-year average, not including 2020.

It means there were 10.7 per cent fewer deaths than the five-year average, the second month in a row that mortality was lower than normal. 

Figures show that just 333, or 0.9 per cent of deaths were due to Covid, with coronavirus no longer included in the top 20 causes of death. 

Far more people are now dying of conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and influenza. In April, Covid was the ninth most common cause of death accounting for 2.4 per cent of all fatalities. 

Weekly statistics from the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, which has been monitoring mortality during the pandemic, show that excess deaths in England are still below the five-year average, even with recent rises in coronavirus deaths due to the delta variant.

In the week ending June 4, there were 754 fewer deaths than expected. 

The ongoing fall in excess deaths means that cumulative excess mortality in England and Wales is now just 4.1 per cent above the normal, even when including the large second wave in January. 

The latest ONS infection data show the percentage of people testing positive for Covid has increased slightly in the week ending June 12, with 0.19 per cent now suffering an infection compared to 0.18 the previous week.

Map of UK’s seven-day Covid-19 infection rate, by local authority

It equates to around one in 520 people with Covid in the community up from one in 560 in the week ending June 5.

Latest data on the delta variant from Public Health England (PHE) show that the case fatality rate is still low, at just 0.3 per cent, compared to two per cent for the alpha variant, although it is likely to rise in the coming weeks.

The analysis also suggests that the vaccine effectiveness against hospitalisation is above 70 per cent even after just one dose. Only 7.7 per cent of people catching Covid had been fully vaccinated. 

Meanwhile, 806 people in England have been admitted to hospital with the delta variant of Covid-19 as of June 14, a rise of 423 on the previous week, according to PHE data.

Of the 806 admitted, 527 (65 per cent) were unvaccinated, 135 (17 per cent) were more than 21 days after their first dose of vaccine, and just 84 (10 per cent) were more than 14 days after their second dose.

Latest UK vaccine numbers: rollout figures

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said the increase across the UK is being driven by younger age groups, many of whom have now been invited for a vaccination as the jab rollout extends to anyone aged 18 and over.

Dr Harries said: "Cases are rising rapidly across the country and the delta variant is now dominant.

"The increase is primarily in younger age groups, a large proportion of which were unvaccinated but are now being invited to receive the vaccine.

“It is encouraging to see that hospitalisations and deaths are not rising at the same rate, but we will continue to monitor it closely.

"The vaccination programme and the care that we are all taking to follow the guidance are continuing to save lives.”