The latest UK Government figures show there have been 5,892 deaths in England since the country reopened on 19 July, a rate of 10.4 per 100,000 people.
But huge regional disparities exist, with the worst-affected area Sunderland recording 2.7 times as many deaths as the England average, as a proportion of the population.
Elsewhere in the UK there have been further 1,086 deaths since the respective devolved nations’ so-called ‘freedom days’.
The Institute for Public Policy North (IPPR North) said a decade of austerity was responsible for the disproportionately high death rate in the North East of England – and warned the North was in for a tough winter without more urgent action on levelling up.
Sunderland and North East worst-hit
The North East has recorded the highest death rate in England since 19 July, with 476 deaths as of 25 September, or 17.8 per 100,000 of the population.
The South East in comparison has the lowest death rate in England, recording 569 deaths or a rate of 6.2 per 100,000 – almost three times lower. This is followed by London which has seen 666 deaths, a rate of 7.4.
However, the North West has recorded the greatest number of deaths overall. The region has seen 991 deaths since 19 July, representing 17% of all deaths in England.
Sunderland has been the worst-hit by Covid deaths since ‘Freedom Day’.
The city has recorded 28.4 deaths per 100,000 people - 2.7 times higher than the England average. In total there have been 79 deaths.
This is followed by Hartlepool, which has seen a death rate of 23.4 per 100,000, and Redcar and Cleveland, which has a death rate of 23.3.
The figures are based on the number of deaths within 28 days of a positive test by date of death. Some recent deaths may not have been registered yet, and may not be included.
What about the rest of the UK?
Northern Ireland has recorded 360 deaths since it reopened on 27 July.
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon has the highest death rate in the country at 24.4 per 100,000 of the population, or 57 in total. Belfast has had the greatest number of deaths overall, with 74.
Scotland reopened the latest out of the four nations. Since 9 August the country has recorded 503 deaths, a rate of 9.2 per 100,000 of the population.
The Scottish Borders has the highest death rate in the country, recording 22 deaths and a rate of 19.1 per 100,000 of the population.
Since Wales reopened on 7 August there have been 223 deaths within 28 days of a positive test). This is a rate of 7.0 per 100,000 of the population.
Why is the North being disproportionately affected?
IPPR research fellow, Dr Parth Patel said it is not right, yet no surprise, that coronavirus deaths have disproportionately affected the North of England.
Dr Patel said: “We know that differences in the conditions in which people live and work determine your risk of catching Covid-19.
“After over a decade of Westminster’s austerity that has disproportionately affected regions like the North, including by cutting their public health budgets.
“It couldn’t be more urgent as we enter what is going to be a very tough winter. Covid-19 will continue to affect northerners disproportionately if rhetoric to ‘level up’ is not urgently matched with bolder policy.”
‘Any death is a tragedy’
A spokesperson for the UK Government said the new Office for Health Improvement and Disparities will help to level up health across the country.
“Any death is a tragedy and we know Covid-19 had a disproportionate impact on certain groups which is why Public Health England carried out a rapid review to better understand the relationship between this virus and factors like ethnicity, obesity and deprivation.
“The new Office for Health Improvement and Disparities will lead national efforts to improve and level up the health of the nation by tackling obesity, improving mental health and promoting physical activity.”
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