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Disabled women over 11 times more likely to die of Coronavirus

19 June 2020

Disabled women with limiting disabilities aged under 65 are 11.3 times more likely to die than non-disabled females, disabled men aged under 65 with limiting disabilities are 6.5 times more likely to die, and a third of all lives lost to Coronavirus in the UK have been those of disabled people according to new data released by the ONS.

The data records 10,430 disabled people’s deaths between 2 March and 15 May compared to 33,998 deaths of all people in the same period.

The analysis from 2 March to 15 May compares the deaths with disability statuses recorded in the last census (2011).

The rates of death per 100,000 are four times greater for disabled women of all ages with significant impairments than non-disabled women - 141.1 deaths per 100,000 compared to 35.6 deaths per 100,000.

The figures are nearly three times higher for disabled men with significant impairments - 199.7 deaths per 100,000 compared to 70.2 deaths per 100,000 of non-disabled men.

DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “We said at the beginning of the Coronavirus crisis that disabled people must not be allowed to become cannon fodder. A fifth of this country’s population is disabled. A third of all deaths have been disabled people’s. The spread of this virus has amounted to a cull upon our community.

“These statistics show that disabled people have understandably been living in fear since the outbreak began.

“Government failed to protect disabled people from the start of this outbreak.

“It knew where we were. It knew many of us received care in the community and in supported accommodation and care homes.

“It prioritised the NHS over social care when they should have had parity.

“It failed to procure PPE.

“It consciously reduced and removed our rights to care under the Coronavirus Act.

“It failed to develop a plan that would protect us, instead turning us into fish in a barrel. Our deaths, and those of those who work with us in care homes, have been way too high.

“The government called us vulnerable. The government made us vulnerable.”

The ONS says that these figures are likely to be an underestimate, given that those whose impairments did not limit their activity back in 2011 may have developed a long-term health condition over the past nine years or that existing health conditions may have worsened. While transitions out of activity limitation are also possible, this is a less likely effect bearing in mind that reported disability tends to increase with age.