COVID-19: Inequalities exacerbated by pandemic must be addressed as vaccines offer way out, review warns

·2-min read

Inequalities in society exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic must not be forgotten once vaccines start to offer a way out of the crisis, a review has warned.

The UK has a "once-in-a-generation opportunity" to tackle racial, educational and health inequalities exposed by the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the Deaton Review of Inequalities.

Commissioned by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the review confirmed that ethnic minority and poorer communities have been the most likely to die of coronavirus across the country.

It also said the wealthiest and highest-educated have been "much better able to ride out the crisis" as they could work from home and educate their children remotely.

By contrast, pupils from poorer households have been the most likely to have missed school since September, the review found.

Young people have been hit hardest by the economic fallout of the pandemic, it adds.

Review chairman and Nobel laureate Sir Angus Deaton warned in a new year briefing: "As the vaccines should, at some point this year, take us into a world largely free of the pandemic, it is imperative to think about policies that will be needed to repair the damage and that focus on those who have suffered the most.

"We now face a set of challenges which we cannot duck."

Earlier this year, a study commissioned by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan suggested black people were twice as likely to die of coronavirus.

Figures from the Met Police also showed that men from black, Asian, minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds were four times more likely than their white peers to be fined for a breach of coronavirus regulations.

The review launched 18 months ago and has published analysis of how divisions have grown since March.

It calls for a reform of the welfare system to better provide for those who are self-employed and not in traditional forms of work.

The review also demands better help for children who have fallen behind with their education and those struggling to find a job after leaving school.

Mark Franks, director of welfare at the Nuffield Foundation, which funded the review, said: "Individuals are subject to a wide range of potential vulnerabilities around dimensions including age, ethnicity, place of birth, education, income and the nature of their employment.

"Where these vulnerabilities intersect, they can amplify and reinforce one another and play a huge role in driving unequal outcomes."