Disabled people more than three-times more likely to die from Coronavirus

Latest figures described as "shocking and heartbreaking."

People with disabilities are more than four-times more likely to die from contracting the deadly Covid-19 virus than non-disabled people, according to recent figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Data compiled by the ONS for Covic-19 related deaths that occured between January and November 2020 reveals that risk was 3.1 times greater for more-disabled men and 1.9 times greater for less-disabled men.

Among women, the risk of death was even greater than that for disabled men: 3.5 times greater for more-disabled women and 2.0 times greater for less-disabled women, compared to non-disabled women.

The risk for Learning Disabled people was 3.7 times greater for both men and women.

Those who said that their day-to-day activities were “limited a little” or “limited a lot” are referred to here as “less-disabled” and “more-disabled” respectively, whereas people reporting no limitation on their activities are referred to as “non-disabled”.

However, the ONS said there is “no single factor” that “explains the considerably raised risk of death involving COVID-19 among disabled people.”

They add: “Place of residence, socio-economic and geographical circumstances, and pre-existing health all play a part. An important part of the raised risk is because disabled people are disproportionately exposed to a range of generally disadvantageous circumstances compared to non-disabled people.”

The ONS conclude: “Patterns in excess Coronavirus mortality risk experienced by disabled people remained largely unchanged between the first and second waves of the pandemic.”

person sitting on wheelchair
Photo by Marcus Aurelius on Pexels.com

Commenting, Head of Policy at Disability Rights UK, Fazilet Hadi said: “It’s good that the ONS is
recognising out loud that Disabled people face disadvantage across all aspects of life, and that they recognise the disproportionate loss of life of Disabled people during this pandemic.

“This information must feed into the National Strategy for Disabled People to level up life expectancy and day to day experience for Disabled people. Our lives matter. It is shocking and heartbreaking that so many of us have died during this pandemic.”

Mehrunisha Suleman, Senior Research Fellow at the Health Foundation, said: “COVID-19 has had an unequal impact on disabled people who have been among the hardest hit in terms of deaths from the virus.

“Worryingly, today’s data confirms this trend, showing that 6 out of 10 people who have died with COVID-19 are disabled. Today’s figures clearly show that current measures to protect disabled people are not enough and that there is an urgent need for more and better support.

“Disabled people are more likely to have one or more long-term health conditions, which means they are at greater risk of suffering severe symptoms if they get COVID-19.

“However, as well as protecting disabled people from exposure to the virus, measures must account for the potential negative effects of lockdown and shielding. A significant number report that, due to lockdown, their health care needs are not being fully met or that they had treatment cancelled or delayed.

“Further action should include careful review of the support that is available to disabled people so they can access the care and essential services they need at home.

“It is also crucial that employment policy ensures that more disabled people get the support they need to work from home.

“The high number of COVID-19 deaths among disabled people ultimately reflects wider failures in how the UK supports those who are vulnerable. Addressing this will require the government to address the major and long-standing inequalities that the pandemic has highlighted.”

Marsha de Cordova MP, Labour’s Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary, said: “It is extremely distressing that disabled people accounted for six in every 10 of all Covid-19 deaths last year.

“This Government has failed to protect disabled people throughout the pandemic. Many have seen their access to care and support slashed, nearly two million sick and disabled people have not received the same additional support as those in receipt of Universal Credit and the Government continues to not produce accessible communications.

“The Government must now introduce a plan that protects disabled people from coronavirus and ensures they are not left out any more from the Government’s responses to the pandemic and immediately extend that £20 uplift to Employment and Support Allowance.”

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