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COVID-19 - excess deaths and health inequalities

We have published our data looking at deaths between 30 December 2019 and 7 June 2020.

Today, alongside our Weekly COVID-19 Statistical Report, we have published data looking at all deaths between the 30 December 2019 and the 7 June 2020. We also looked at COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related deaths specifically to see whether the gap between the numbers of people who died in the most and least deprived areas in Scotland had changed during the pandemic period.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people in Scotland have tragically lost their lives to the virus. Our report shows that during this time, there have also been more non-COVID-19 related deaths than would be expected. It also shows that absolute inequalities for overall deaths increased sharply during March and peaked in early-April at about double the expected level based on weekly averages for the previous five years. Since then, this gap has gradually narrowed to within the range seen over the previous five years. Both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related deaths contributed to the overall excess number of deaths and to the inequality gap. Lastly, the relative gap between the numbers of people who died, living in the most and least deprived areas was greater for COVID-19 deaths than for non-COVID-19 deaths.

Andrew Pulford, Public Health Intelligence Adviser at Public Health Scotland said:

"Before the pandemic, health inequalities persisted in Scotland even during periods of overall improvement to the health of Scotland’s people. It is important that as we tackle the virus, we do all that we can to understand the impact of it on the immediate and long term health of the people of Scotland, and that we continue to monitor the impact on health inequalities.

"The analysis we have published today seeks to do that, and is the start of ongoing work in this area. Further research to understand the excess mortality observed during the COVID-19 pandemic period and its implications for health inequalities is ongoing. This will help Government, the NHS and everyone involved in tackling COVID-19 to anticipate health care needs in the future and continue to protect the health of all of the people in Scotland."

First published on 24 June 2020