Commenting on Office for National Statistics (ONS) analysis of deaths involving COVID-19 by local area and socioeconomic deprivation (between 1 March and 31 May 2020), Dr Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive at the Health Foundation, said:
'COVID-19 is not a great leveller – the pandemic is having an unequal impact on our already unequal society. Today's data show that people living in the most deprived areas of England are more than twice as likely to die as a result of COVID-19 than those in the least deprived.
'In February 2020, the Marmot Review Ten Years On identified wide and growing levels of health inequality across England, particularly between North and South. Living in socioeconomically deprived areas is associated with poor health and a shorter life and the direct effect of COVID-19 is making these inequalities worse. The wider indirect effects of the pandemic on health – for example from foregone care for other conditions, and ill-health resulting from economic insecurity – are likely to have a similar but longer lasting impact.
'As we recover from the pandemic and face considerable economic uncertainty, the Government has to get much more serious about protecting and improving the health of the population for the future. Much ill-health is avoidable, and not tackling this will hamper economic recovery and attempts to level up. A cross-government strategy to improve health and reduce avoidable inequality is long overdue.'
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