Socio-demographic Disparities in COVID-19 Case Rates During Second and Third Waves

Pavankumar Kamat

September 24, 2021

A new report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) highlights disparities in the age-standardised case rates for COVID-19 in England by socio-demographic characteristics, including ethnicity, religion, country of birth, socio-economic status and disability. The report presents the data for the period between 1 September 2020 and 25 July 2021, when the second and the third waves of the COVID-19 pandemic occurred in England.

For the study, researchers linked the NHS Test and Trace data to the ONS Public Health Data Asset. The study population comprised individuals aged 10 years or older in 2020, residing in England, registered with a GP as of 1 November 2019, enumerated at the 2011 Census and alive as of 1 September 2020. The socio-demographic characteristics were gathered using data from postcodes retained in GP records.

The highest age-standardised case rates (cases per 100,000 person-weeks) of COVID-19 during the second wave of the pandemic were seen in the Pakistani (378.1) and Bangladeshi (390.6) ethnic groups, whereas the White British ethnic group (234.7) had the highest case rate during the third wave.

The COVID-19 case rates (cases per 100,000 person-weeks) were highest for individuals who identified as Muslim (339.3) and Sikh (325.3) during the second wave, whereas individuals who identified as Christian (235.1) had the highest rates during the third wave.

The COVID-19 case rates (cases per 100,000 person-week) were higher among individuals born outside of the UK than those born in the UK (205.2 vs 172.6) during the second wave; however, the trend reversed during the third wave (146.1 vs 225.0).

During the second and third waves, the COVID-19 case rates were highest in the most deprived areas of England. Additionally, individuals residing in urban areas had higher COVID-19 case rates than those residing in rural areas across the second and third waves of the pandemic.

Overall, disabled individuals had higher COVID-19 case rates than non-disabled individuals across the second and third waves of the pandemic.

This is the first time ONS has produced such an analysis; however, there is scope for further research to better understand the inequalities in COVID-19 case rates.

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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