England has reported the lowest rate of COVID-19 deaths per total fatalities in a study of European nations.

The study by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) provides some welcome relief to the UK government which has come under increasing criticism for its handling of the care home crisis.

The research, using ONS data as of May 9, shows there were almost 7,000 COVID-19 care home fatalities in England, amounting to 21% of 33,000 fatalities. Wales reported a higher rate of 25%, while care home COVID-19 death rates in Scotland amounted to 45% of 3,200 COVID-19 fatalities as of May 10.

Elsewhere, the share of care home fatalities per total ranged from 37% in Germany to 66% in Spain, which had seen 18,000 deaths officially reported in care facilities as of May 11.

Rates were also high in France (50%) which reported more than 13,500 COVID-19 care home deaths as of May 11, Belgium (51%), Norway (61%) and Stockholm, Sweden (45%). Italy, which has Europe’s second highest overall fatality rate after the UK, was not included in the research.

While the European comparison favoured England, it should be borne in mind that the ONS is generally accepted to be underreporting the true number of care home fatalities with the latest estimates suggesting that the ‘real’ death number of deaths is more than double their figure.