Coronavirus: Deprived areas hit twice as hard

Coronavirus map promo image

The most deprived parts of England and Wales have been hit twice as hard by coronavirus as wealthier areas, the Office for National Statistics said.

Urban areas were markedly worse affected than rural areas.

And London had significantly more deaths from coronavirus per 100,000 people than any other region.

Mortality rates are "normally higher in more deprived areas" and coronavirus appeared to be "increasing this effect", an ONS statistician said.

In England, once you adjust for the age of population, there were 128 deaths involving Covid-19 per 100,000 people in the population in the most deprived areas.

The least deprived areas saw less than half that rate (60 deaths per 100,000) in March, April and May.

If you can't see the map click here. For more details on the map scroll to the bottom of this page or see the full ONS release here.

Urban impact

In Wales a similar pattern was seen, with a rate of 110 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 in the most deprived areas - nearly double the rate of 58 deaths per 100,000 in the wealthiest areas.

There was also a clear link between coronavirus mortality and how densely populated an area is.

Between March and May, the most built-up areas, classified as a "urban major conurbations", like Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, experienced 124 Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 people.

In contrast, across "urban cities or towns", like Preston and Brighton, there were 74 Covid deaths per 100,000 people.

This shrank to 48 in rural villages and 23 per 100,000 in the most sparsely populated areas of England and Wales.

Broadly, the more people who come into contact with each other in a given area, the better infection spreads.

There may also be some overlap with the deprivation effect.

'Narrowing the gap'

At the daily Downing Street coronavirus briefing on Friday, the national medical director of NHS England said many of the risk factors that can heighten the risk of Covid-19 - such as diabetes, obesity and lung disease - are seen "more frequently in more deprived areas".

Prof Stephen Powis added: "It is absolutely crucial that we narrow the gap in health inequalities."

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the briefing that the government was "dedicated" to tackling health - and other - inequalities.

Deprivation effect 'increased'

Nine out of the 10 local authorities with the highest mortality rate from coronavirus, adjusted for age, were in London.

  • The borough of Brent had the highest rate with 211 deaths per 100,000 people, followed by Newham and Hackney
  • The only local authority outside London in the top 10 was Middlesbrough
  • Salford and Hertsmere were also in the top 20 worst-hit areas

By May the outbreak had shifted away from London and the region with the highest age-adjusted Covid-19 mortality rate was the north east.

"General mortality rates are normally higher in more deprived areas, but Covid-19 appears to be increasing this effect," says Sarah Caul, the ONS's head of mortality analysis.

"Although London had some of the highest Covid-19 mortality rates in the country during March and April, it is now experiencing lower mortality rates compared with most areas."

Notes on the map

  1. Points on the map are placed at the centre of the local area they represent and do not show the actual location of deaths. The size of the circle is proportional to the number of deaths.
  2. To protect confidentiality, a small number of deaths have been reallocated between neighbouring areas.
  3. Deaths occurring between 1 March 2020 and 31 May 2020 and registered by 6 June 2020.
  4. Figures exclude death of non-residents and are based on May 2020 boundaries.
  5. Coronavirus (COVID-19) was the underlying cause or was mentioned on the death certificate as a contributory factor (ICD-10 codes U07.1 and U07.2).
  6. Locally adopted MSOA names are provided by House of Commons Library. While these names are not officially supported for National Statistics they are provided here to help local users.
  7. Figures are provisional.