According to the latest study of Public Health England (PHE), the proportion of people with learning disabilities in England who die from Covid-19 is much higher than that of the general population.
Researchers at the institution examined data from the “Evaluation of Mortality among English Learning Disabilities” (LeDeR) and death data from hospitals in NHS England.
They found that 451 out of every 100,000 people with learning disabilities died of Covid-1
The death rate is 4.1 times that of the general population, but PHE said on Friday that the actual death rate may be as high as 6.3 times because not all deaths are recorded in the two databases used.
PHE said on Friday that people with learning disabilities are more likely to have other physical health problems, including obesity and diabetes. People with basic health conditions are most threatened by the coronavirus.
The PHE statement said: “Certain types of learning disabilities, such as Down syndrome, can make people more susceptible to respiratory infections, thereby increasing their risk of dying from Covid-19.”
Professor John Newton, Director of Health Improvement, Public Health England, said in a statement on Friday: “During the first wave of pandemics, one of the most vulnerable groups in our society suffered such great suffering. Feeling uneasy.”
Newton added: “We must do everything possible to prevent this from happening again.”
Among those with learning disabilities, residential caregivers have a higher Covid-19 mortality rate. PHE points out that this difference may at least partly reflect the “older age and disability” of the caregivers.
During the first wave of the pandemic, nursing homes in the UK were also severely hit by the coronavirus, which has since aroused public outcry.
Newton said: “Now, routine tests are conducted in nursing homes to ensure that people can quickly identify and isolate coronavirus cases even if they do not recognize the symptoms themselves.” He added that strict infection control is still necessary.