An analysis of Covid-19 deaths and equality in Northern Ireland

What we found

Taking into account the age structure of the population in Northern Ireland, Covid-19 age-standardised mortality rates (ASMRs) were significantly higher in 2020 compared to 2021. The ASMR is a weighted average of the age-specific mortality rates per 100,000 persons. For Covid-19 deaths, this rate was 166.8 in 2020 compared to 147.4 in 2021. Non Covid-19 ASMRs (per 100,000) were also significantly higher in 2020 (1,240.8) compared to 2021 (1,169.1).

For the period March 2020 to November 2021, persons who self-reported a disability at the time of the 2011 Census had a higher risk for both Covid-19 (+42%) and non Covid-19 (+40%) mortality compared to ‘non-disabled’ people, after accounting for age, sex, area of residence, socio‑demographic characteristics and health.

After adjusting for age, area of residence, socio-demographic characteristics and health, female disabled individuals had a statistically significant greater risk of Covid-19 death in 2020 (74% greater likelihood compared to non-disabled females) compared to male disabled individuals (26% greater likelihood compared to non-disabled males).

Impact and next steps

The research findings address priority evidence gaps around Covid-19 deaths identified by government officials and third sector policy leads.

This research will be informative in shaping future research projects through ADR Northern Ireland. For example, the forthcoming Census 2021 research dataset will be an invaluable resource for continued assessment of the impact of the pandemic in Northern Ireland.

About the research

The research findings demonstrate innovative use of linked datasets in support of public policy. Findings also complement similar analysis published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which assessed Covid-19-related deaths by disability status in England from 24 January to 9 March 2022. Research questions were shaped and informed by information queries from a range of stakeholders including the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, Department of Health and elected officials.  

This research was led by researchers from ADR Northern Ireland partner, NISRA (Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency). It builds on earlier work in relation to Covid-19 Deaths and Equality in Wave One of the pandemic as well as other research on age-standardised mortality rates, excess mortality, and pre-existing conditions.

Read the full report on the NISRA website.

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