Covid: Who has been most affected by the virus as UK passes 100,000 deaths?
Professor Jennifer Rogers, vice president of statistical research and consultancy at the specialist biometrics CRO, PHASTAR, is working with ITV News as our Covid statistician, making sense of coronavirus data.
Today, the UK passed 100,000 coronavirus deaths.
As the pandemic continues to take its toll on the country, it provides an opportunity to look at who has been most affected by the virus.
Geographical trends of Covid-19
If we first look at how deaths have been spread geographically, the worst hit regions in England have been the North West, North East, and West Midlands. This is not surprising since these regions are among the worst hit with respect to Covid-19 cases.
Looking at the North West, which has the highest cumulative death rate of 192 per 100,000 since the beginning of the pandemic, the associated cumulative case rate in this region is 6,878 per 100,000.
Compare this to the South West which has the lowest cumulative death rate of 85 per 100,000 ad the lowest case rate of 3,229 per 100,000. So, the South West has had fewer than half the number of Covid-19 cases and fewer than half the number of Covid-19 deaths compared to the North West.
There has also been a huge amount of variability within regions. The worst hit upper tier local authority (UTLA) for deaths has been Havering in London, with 270 in every 100,000 people having died from COVID-19.
Compare this with Camden, which has seen 79 in every 100,000 people die from Covid-19. Almost 200 fewer people per 100,000. Some areas very much seem to have a higher mortality rates because case rates have been correspondingly higher in these places. But if we look at Barnsley, which has the third highest death rate of 266.7 per 100,000, the associated case rate in this area is much lower than other places.
The impact of age on coronavirus deaths revealed
When it comes to examining death rates, it’s not just case numbers that have an effect. We know that age is one of the biggest factors associated with Covid-19 mortality.
Analysis of the data shows that 69% of all Covid-19 deaths have occurred in people aged 80 or older, with 73% occurring in those aged 70 and over, and 93% of all Covid-19 deaths being among those aged 60 or over. If we compare this to case rates, since the middle of July, just 4.5% of cases have been in those aged 80 or older, with 9% of cases being among those aged 70 and older, and 16.5% of cases being among those aged 60 and older.
What role does ethnicity and gender play in Covid deaths?
Ethnicity has also had a big effect on Covid-19 death rates. Just over 10% of Covid-19 deaths have been in ethnic minority groups, but this hides the fact that death rates in these groups have been much higher than in the white ethnic population.
Among white men, 107 in every 100,000 have died from coronavirus, the lowest mortality rate of all the ethnic groups. But for men of Black African ethnic backgrounds, 289 in every 100,000 have died from Covid-19.
Females of Black Caribbean ethnic backgrounds have the highest mortality rate among women, where 130 in every 100,000 have died from Covid-19, compared to a rate of 66 per 100,000 among white women.
Throughout the pandemic, case rates among ethnic minority groups have been higher than in white ethnic groups. Most recent data reports that the weekly case rate in the second week of January was 703 per 100,000 among the “Black / African / Caribbean / Black British” ethnic group. For the white ethnic population, this case rate was 381 per 100,000 in the same week.
What is clear, is that coronavirus has not affected us all equally, and some groups have lost many more of their loved ones than others.