People with disabilities made up six in ten of all COVID-19 deaths, research shows

Disabled people in England had “markedly increased” risk of mortality involving COVID-19 compared to non-disabled people.

29/06/21

People with disabilities made up six in ten of all COVID-19 deaths, research shows

New research has found that six in ten (58%) of all people who died from causes involving COVID-19 in England were disabled.

Researchers from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) calculated COVID-19 health risks for disabled people compared with non-disabled people, adjusted for various factors including geography, socio-demographic characteristics, and pre-pandemic health conditions.

From the 24th January 2020 to 28th February 2021, 105,213 people died from causes involving COVID-19 in England, 58% of whom were disabled.

The research paper, which has not yet been peer reviewed, used data from the ONS Public Health Data Asset and the 2011 Census, splitting disability further into two categories of ‘more disabled’ and ‘less disabled’.

Adjusting for age, ‘more disabled’ people were more than three times more likely to die from COVID-19, and ‘less disabled’ people were almost twice as likely than people without a disability.

Among people aged 30-69, the risks for people categorised as ‘more disabled’ were even higher. Compared to people of the same age without a disability, the risk of death for ‘more disabled’ women in this age category were almost 8.5 times higher, and more than five times higher for ‘more disabled’ men.

Authors said the increased risk of mortality was ‘partly explained’ by the type of residence the person was living in, whereabouts in England they lived, pre-existing health conditions and socioeconomic factors.

“Disabled people in England had markedly increased risk of mortality involving COVID-19 compared to non-disabled people and should be prioritised within the pandemic response,” the research concluded.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the Government has taken action to protect people using emerging evidence to inform its response.

“We recognise this pandemic has been incredibly difficult for disabled people and our deepest sympathies go out to those who have lost loved ones due to this awful virus.

“We are determined to eliminate health inequalities and improve the care and health outcomes of thousands of people.

“The Government has provided a range of help for disabled people throughout this period including £3.6m to help charities offer vital projects to improve disabled people’s physical and mental wellbeing.

“Through our forthcoming National Disability Strategy we are going to go even further in addressing issues that disabled people say affect them the most.”

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