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Analysis of UK ONS data shows that communities with a high density of care homes and residential overcrowding experienced higher excess mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic

Friday 18 June 2021

During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, severely-affected countries experienced high levels of excess mortality.  In England, over 50,000 excess deaths were reported by the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS), with variations in excess deaths between different areas. To understand community characteristics that might influence these patterns, a team of researchers led by Prof. Paul Elliott at the UK Dementia Research Institute applied statistical models to ONS data on excess mortality from the first wave of the pandemic.

Lowest levels of excess mortality were reported in remote rural areas, with the largest increases in mortality in London. Communities with greater environmental and social deprivation tended to have larger increases in excess mortality. Excess mortality risks did not appear to be linked to higher population density; instead, they were related to poverty, overcrowded homes, and non-white ethnicity. Of note, communities with a high density of care homes were linked to a 21-27% increase in excess mortality. Together, these results underline the importance of bolstering protection for care home staff and residents, and improving public health and healthcare measures that target the communities most at-risk for excess mortality.