Socialist Worker

Poor twice as likely to die from virus as business booms for the bosses

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2715

A Workers Memorial Day action calling for safety measures in Brent, west London, in April. Brent has suffered the highest overall death rate for coronavirus

A Workers' Memorial Day action calling for safety measures in Brent, west London, in April. Brent has suffered the highest overall death rate for coronavirus (Pic: Steve Eason)


Class and wealth shapes who lives and who dies from coronavirus.

Places with high levels of deprivation have double the Covid-19 mortality rates of more affluent areas, shocking new figures have revealed.

In England, areas where more poor people live suffered 140 deaths per 100,000 people between March and June—compared to 63 in wealthier places.

There was a similar gulf in Wales, with 119 deaths per 100,000 in poorer areas compared to 64 in more affluent places.

And the data released on Friday showed that the gap between mortality death rates is widening.

Parts of London have suffered the highest Covid-19 mortality rate since the outbreak of the pandemic, with Middlesbrough and Salford close behind.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that between March and the end of June, nine of the ten worst-hit local authorities in England and Wales were in the capital.

Brent had the highest overall rate with 217 deaths per 100,000 people, followed by Newham (202 deaths per 100,000) and Haringey (185 deaths per 100,000).

The coronavirus death rates are following a more general pattern. Richer people live longer than poorer ones, and sometimes a lot longer.

In the least deprived areas, the mortality rate for all deaths—not just coronavirus—was 296 deaths per 100,000 population for the period March to June 2020. In the most deprived areas, the rate was 92 percent higher.

Christmas

The statistics were released as Boris Johnson warned that coronavirus will haunt Britain until “the middle of next year”. His comments came one week after Johnson appeared to promise “normality by Christmas”.

On a visit to a GP surgery in east London on Friday, Johnson was asked to acknowledge any blunders he had made in his handling of the pandemic. He replied, “It would be invidious to single out any particular mistake.”

Just seven days ago, Johnson had suggested social distancing rules could be relaxed further within a few months. But now he said, “I’m not going to make a prediction about when these various social distancing measures will come off.”

Another report this week showed that more than three in four of the world’s super-rich have increased their family wealth despite the global economic downturn.

The Swiss bank UBS surveyed 121 “family offices” across 35 countries. Some 93 of them said they had managed to hit or exceed their financial objectives from January to May this year.

The research comes as charities warn that hundreds of millions of people around the world could be pushed into poverty due to the effects of Covid-19.

The family offices surveyed by UBS currently have a combined wealth of £113.6 billion. They have an average portfolio of £1.28 billion each, which they look after for their ultra-high net worth clients.

In a statement released in the report, Josef Stadler, head of UBS's global family office, wrote that the majority of the offices “have performed in line with, or above, targets during one of the most volatile moments in the history of financial markets.”


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