10 July 2020

The reckoning

Where the virus hit

How age, gender, race and jobs have impacted on who got Covid-19

By Ella Hollowood, Jack Kessler and Chris Newell

There is much we still do not know about Covid-19. Where did it start? Does infection confer immunity? And what proportion of those infected show no symptoms? But one thing has been clear for some time – it is not a great leveller. Who you are, where you live and what job you do has an outsized say on your chances of catching, and ultimately dying of Covid-19.

Men are in many ways the more fragile sex. On average, men die younger than women and are generally more at risk of a wide range of health issues. The coronavirus is no different. Of the nearly 50,000 Covid-19 related deaths that were registered between the beginning of March and the week ending 26 June, 55 per cent were men.

One of the starkest trends of the pandemic has been the impact on older people: the older you are, the more likely you are to die of Covid-19 if you catch it. The under-45s account for 1% of Covid-related deaths, while the over-85s comprise 42% of all such deaths.

Where you live matters too. Covid-19 hit different regions of the UK with different force. London quickly became the hub of the outbreak in its early days, and accounts for 17% of all Covid-related deaths.

Population density tells part
of the story. The death rate
for Covid-19 is highest in
dense urban areas

…lower in
dense rural areas

…and lowest in
sparse rural areas.

Using the ONS’s Index of Multiple Deprivation, it is clear that Covid-19 has had a proportionally higher impact on the most deprived areas of England.

Covid-19 has also had an outsized impact on ethnic minorities. After adjusting for a range of indicators like region, population density and socio-demographic characteristics, the risk of death for people from a Black ethnic background was twice as high for men and 1.4 times higher for women, compared with people of white ethnic background.

What job you do, and where you do it, has a direct impact on your risk of dying from Covid-19. According to official death registers, 4,761 UK workers died from Covid-19 in the 11 weeks between 9 March and 25 May. They include clergy, police officers and shopkeepers. Here are just some of the occupations worst affected.

Many of these occupation groups have significantly high proportions of workers from BAME backgrounds. Almost all earn below the UK’s average hourly wage.

 

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