England's deprived areas suffer more virus deaths

By: AFP      Published: 06:44 PM, 1 May, 2020
England's deprived areas suffer more virus deaths

The death rate from coronavirus in England is more than twice as high among people in disadvantaged areas, according to official data published Friday.

There were 55.1 deaths per 100,000 people involving coronavirus in the areas with the worst rankings for income, health, education and crime -- compared to 25.3 in the least-deprived areas, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

General mortality rates involving all causes of deaths, including COVID-19, were 88 percent higher in the most deprived areas than in the least. But when looking at the impact of deprivation on COVID-19 mortality, the rate in the most disadvantaged areas of England was 118 percent higher than in more well-off locations.

"People living in more deprived areas have experienced COVID-19 mortality rates more than double those living in less deprived areas," said Nick Stripe, ONS head of health analysis. "General mortality rates are normally higher in more deprived areas, but so far COVID-19 appears to be taking them higher still."

The ONS figures, which analysed deaths between March 1 and April 17, confirmed London was the epicentre of Britain's outbreak, which has so far killed more than 26,000 people nationwide. The capital had the highest mortality rate in the country, with 85.7 deaths per 100,000 people involving COVID-19.

This was more than double the next highest area, the West Midlands -- which includes the city of Birmingham -- where there were 43.2 deaths involving coronavirus per 100,000 people. The east London borough of Newham was worst hit, with 144.3 deaths per 100,000 people.

London and Birmingham are the most diverse areas of Britain, a fact that has been used to explain why ethnic minorities have been particularly affected by the outbreak. But a new study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) think tank on Friday suggest a more complex picture.

It notes that most minorities are younger on average than the general population, so should be less vulnerable.

But "after stripping out the role of age and geography, Bangladeshi hospital fatalities are twice those of the white British group, Pakistani deaths are 2.9 times as high and black African deaths 3.7 times as high", it said. "Underlying health conditions, occupational exposure, and a range of other factors are likely to be important, with some more important for particular groups," the report said. "Bangladeshi men have high rates of underlying health problems, and black Africans and Indian men are particularly exposed to the virus due to their prevalence in healthcare roles."

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