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Six out of 10 people who died with COVID last year were disabled

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Disabled people made up six out of every 10 deaths involving coronavirus last year, according to new statistics.

Figures published by the ONS have revealed that more than 30,000 disabled people had died with coronavirus in England last year, and the risk of death was three times higher for those with severe disabilities.

Of the 50,888 deaths from from January 24 to November 20, 30,296 people were disabled – some 59.5%.

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The statistics show that the risk of death involving coronavirus was three times greater for ‘more-disabled men’ and almost two times greater for ‘less-disabled men’, compared with non-disabled men.

Among women, the risk of death was 3.5 times greater for ‘more-disabled women’ and two times greater for ‘less-disabled women’, compared with non-disabled women.

For people with a medically diagnosed learning disability, the risk of death involving COVID-19 was 3.7 times greater for both men and women compared with people who did not have a learning disability.

Commenting on the findings, Mehrunisha Suleman, Senior Research Fellow at the Health Foundation, said the figures show that current measures to protect disabled people from coronavirus are “not enough” and there is an “urgent need” for more and better support. 

He added: “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.”

Dan Scorer, head of Policy at the learning disability charity Mencap, said the government must step up and address “this scandal” and prioritise everyone with a learning disability for the vaccine.

“Currently people with a severe or profound learning disability are in group 6 on the vaccine priority list, and adults with Down’s syndrome are in group 4. Yet people with a mild or moderate learning disability are not being prioritised, ​unless due to their age or clinical vulnerability. 

“We are urgently calling for everyone with a learning disability to be prioritised in at least group 6 on the vaccine priority list. It is ​unacceptable that within a group of people who already face serious barriers to ​accessing healthcare, ​many are ​being left out and their lives put in danger.” 

Tags : coronavirusCOVID-19deathsdisabled peopleMencap
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke

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