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Exposing the inequity of COVID-19

For many months we have seen how COVID-19 exacerbates existing differences, targeting the elderly, many with chronic disease and those with less access to healthcare. Last week, I highlighted the difficulties in determining suitable metrics to assess the impact of COVID-19.

In this post, I will present analysis that illustrates the differences in excess mortality between different UK regions under two different approaches. The first (ED Calc A) compares the number of deaths in each week with the equivalent number over the last 5 years (2015-2019). The second (ED Calc B) considers the effect of changes in the population age pyramid and likely trends in mortality rates. Where particular age groups are reducing in size over time, the first approach hides the extent of the excess mortality that there has been.

Table 1 provides results up to the end of week 49 for the different English regions and devolved countries in the UK, with separate analysis for men and women. The mortality rates expressed as "per mille" show the full extent of differences, with different regions ranging from 50% to 150% of the UK average, and typically much higher rates for men than women.

TABLE 1 - Excess mortality in UK up to week 49

I will update this Table in subsequent weeks. More detailed analysis by age group is available for those who want to explore further. The underlying data on deaths and population estimates are taken from the ECDC, ONS, NRA, and NISRA.

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