Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Covid-19 deaths remain ‘dramatically higher’ in learning disability groups

Every week since the end of November, people with a learning disability have died from Covid-19 disproportionately from the general population, according to new analysis by Mencap.

The data from Learning Disability Mortality Review (LeDeR) and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that 80% of the deaths of people with a learning disability in England were Covid-19-related in the week ending 22nd January. This is dramatically higher than the general population in England and Wales.

Mencaps says that the ‘shocking’ disparity between the proportion of Covid deaths has grown dramatically throughout December and January, yet, not everyone with a learning disability is being prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine. To help prevent further deaths, the charity says everyone with a learning disability must urgently be included in group 6 on the vaccine priority list.

Currently, those with a severe or profound learning disability and adults with Down’s syndrome are on the priority list, but people with a mild or moderate learning disability are not being prioritised at all unless they have other conditions that mean they’re included in the priority list.

Mencap estimates that including all people with a learning disability in group 6 would only be an additional 100,000-200,000 people, so would not overwhelm the rollout of the vaccine.


Covid 19 deaths


Serious health inequalities for people with a learning disability

The charity says that the Government is not acting on the clear evidence that all people with a learning disability are highly vulnerable to dying from Covid-19, not only those already included in vaccine priority groups. It added that the JCVI’s medical approach to the priority list is flawed and fails to consider a host of social, economic and health inequalities.

Even before Covid-19, people with a learning disability faced serious health inequalities and had a significantly lower life expectancy – with women dying on average 27 years younger and men dying 22 years younger.

Harry Roche, Communications Assistant and Ambassador at Mencap and who has a learning disability, said: “The death rate for 18-34-year-olds with a learning disability is 30 times higher than the rest of the population. I’m 32 years old and have a learning disability – this statistic scares me. I’m calling on Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock to rethink and prioritise everyone with a learning disability. We are too often forgotten, don’t ignore us now.”


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