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

The report published on 21 December 2021 addressed evidence gaps for Covid-19 deaths in relation to equality group, health and socio-demographic characteristics. It covers wave one of the pandemic in Northern Ireland (March to September 2020). 

What we found

Analysis was adjusted for differences in age, sex, area of residence, and other socio-demographic characteristics from March to September 2020. It found that for people self-reporting having a disability at the time of the 2011 Census (compared to ‘non-disabled’ people), there was a 48% higher risk of Covid-19 death. By comparison, there was a 40% higher risk of non-Covid-19 death.  

An analysis of Covid-19 mortality in relation to those identified as Catholic compared to Protestant and other Christian was also undertaken. After accounting for differences in age, sex and area of residence, there was no significant difference in risk of Covid-19 death between those who identified as Catholics at the time of the 2011 Census compared to Protestant and other Christian.

Impact and next steps

The research findings address priority evidence gaps identified by government officials and third sector policy leads. The depth of commentary provided within the report is enabling researchers and policy makers to gain greater familiarity with a key research resource. This will be instrumental in shaping future research projects through ADR Northern Ireland.

The time period for analyses was determined by availability of death registration data on the research dataset. This research will be extended to cover later waves of the pandemic and further reports are planned to be published by mid-2022.

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 looked at Covid-19-related deaths by disability status in England from 24 January to 30 November 2020. 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), and supported by academics from Queen’s University Belfast. It builds on earlier work in relation to mortality during the Covid-19 pandemic, including on age-standardised mortality rates, excess mortality, and pre-existing conditions.

Read the full report on the NISRA website.

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