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Coronavirus death rates twice as high in UK’s poorest areas as in richest, stark new data shows

3 min read

Coronavirus death rates are more than twice as high in the poorest parts of the country as they are in the richest, bleak new official analysis has revealed.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), published on Friday, shows that the Covid-19 mortality rate in England’s most deprived areas stands at 55.1 per 100,000 people.

By contrast, the number of deaths per 100,000 in the least deprived areas of England stands at just 25.3.

Nick Stripe, head of health analysis at the Office for National Statistics said: “People living in more deprived areas have experienced COVID-19 mortality rates more than double those living in less deprived areas. 

“General mortality rates are normally higher in more deprived areas, but so far COVID-19 appears to be taking them higher still.”

The figures are also stark for Wales, where the most deprived areas logged a Covid-19 mortality rate of 44.6 deaths per 100,000 people - almost twice as high as for Wales’s least deprived area, with 23.2 deaths per 100,000.

The analysis also reveals a sharp divide between town and country, with 18.4 deaths per 100,000 in rural villages, compared to a far higher rate of 64.3 in “urban major conurbations”.

London is suffering by far the highest coronavirus mortality rate, with the 11 local authorities with the highest death rates all London boroughs, topped off by Newham, Brent and Hackney at the head of the list.

The UK capital’s coronavirus death rate stands at 85.7 per 100,000 people - a finding the ONS said was “statistically significantly higher” than any other other region in England or Wales.

Salford, Watford, Hertsmere, Middlesbrough, Luton, Sandwell and Slough also posted comparatively high mortality rates above 65 deaths per 100,000 people, the analysis shows.

Responding to the figures, Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth, said: "This is a devastating confirmation that the virus thrives on inequality, with people living in more deprived areas seeing COVID-19 mortality rates more than double those in less deprived areas.

"Labour has long warned of shameful health inequalities which mean the poorest contract illness earlier in life and die sooner.

"COVID-19 exacerbates existing inequalities in our country. Ministers must target health inequalities with an overarching strategy to tackle the wider social determinants if ill health."

Labour MP Alison McGovern told PoliticsHome the statistics “tell the story we all know”.

“COVID19 has shown up flaws in our country that the Government has been painfully slow to address,” the shadow minister said.

“We need urgent action - for example on  Universal Credit - but before long we need to change our country so that we are no longer blighted by poverty and inequality.”

Acting Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said: "This awful virus has wrought havoc on lives across the UK, but it's clear that those worst affected are people already living in some of the most deprived areas of the country.”

He added: “Those who were already vulnerable are being hit hardest. This is no coincidence. This postcode lottery of morbidity is shameful and must not be tolerated.”

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