As the UK edges back to work this week, and employees consider the risks of moving beyond lockdown, official figures show that over-65s are 34 times more likely to die of coronavirus than those of working-age.
As I fall into this category, this is indeed a sobering statistic, although it highlights the significantly lower risk of contracting covid-19 at work, unless of course you are an NHS front line worker, care home worker or one of the higher risk occupations.
About 12% of all deaths relating to Covid-19 have occurred among those under 65 – a total of 4,066 deaths. Most victims have been in the over-65 category, accounting for 30,978 fatalities. There have been 8.4 deaths per 100,000 people among the under-65 category, which rises to 286 deaths per 100,000 in the over-65 group.
The contrast is even starker in data concerning those under 45. According to the Office for National Statistics figure, there have been just 401 deaths in this age group – one death for every 100,000 people, or less than 1% of the overall death toll.
However, age is just one of the factors that will affect a person’s vulnerability to the virus. Research has shown that ethnicity, deprivation, pre-existing health conditions and occupation also contribute to an individual’s risk of dying.
Death rates among some minority ethnic groups are also disproportionately high, according to a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. It found the death rate among British black Africans and British Pakistanis from coronavirus in English hospitals was more than 2.5 times that of the white population. Guardian reporting also found that areas with high BAME populations tended to have higher death rates.
New data released by the ONS on Monday showed for the first time that people in low-paid manual jobs were at much greater risk of dying from Covid-19.
Men in low-paid jobs were almost four times more likely to die from coronavirus than professionals, with 21.4 deaths per 100,000 people, compared with 5.6 among white-collar male workers, according to the analysis.
Jobs which were found to have high death rates included security guards, care workers, construction workers, plant operatives, cleaners, taxi drivers, bus drivers, chefs and retail workers.
“For example, taxi and bus drivers (who have contact with the public) have very high Covid-19 death rates, whereas heavy truck drivers (who mostly don’t have public contact) don’t have high rates.”
The death rate among the working population is relatively low, but of those who have died so far, the data shows the deaths have been unevenly distributed, particularly NHS care workers,Care home workers and those in higher risk occupations.
** This article was amended on 14 May 2020 to remove an incorrect assertion that in Britain, working-age people were 34 times less likely to die than pensioners. Pensioners are 34 more times likely to die than working age people, but these two statements are not statistically equivalent.
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