Higher Covid death rate in Manchester as timing of England’s national lockdowns ‘did not align well’
Higher rates of Covid-19 deaths in Greater Manchester can partly be explained by the fact that England’s national lockdowns did not align with the timings of waves of infection there, a report has said.
Unlike Wales and Scotland, Greater Manchester did not have the ability to set its own ‘national’ lockdown, although some local restrictions were in place.
The report by Sir Michael Marmot revealed the coronavirus death rate in Greater Manchester was 25% higher than the England average during the year to March.
“While England has experienced high Covid-19 mortality rates compared with other countries, the rate in Greater Manchester has been even higher than the average in England,” finds the report.
This was mainly due to longstanding, avoidable socioeconomic inequities and ethnic disadvantage, exacerbated by a decade of spending cuts, the report says.
But the report also argues that it was partly because “the timing of the containment measures implemented in England did not align well with the trajectory of the pandemic in the City Region”.
“The timing of national restrictions was not always appropriate for Greater Manchester because the pandemic’s progress
there was different from the rest of the country.”
The findings echo criticisms from other health experts that the first lockdown ended too soon for the pandemic’s pattern here.
Launching the report, Michael Marmot, the director of the UCL Institute for Health Equity, argued that any ‘levelling up’ plans by the UK Government going forward needed to focus on inequality.
The findings of the Greater Manchester report were “generalisable” across other deprived areas of England, added Marmot, saying: “It’s pretty bad for life chances to live in poorer parts of London, too.
“Levelling up shouldn’t only be about the Midlands and the north-east and the north-west [of England]. Deprived parts of London need attention as well.”
The report was commissioned by the Greater Manchester Health and Social care Partnership.
The mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “The pandemic has brutally exposed just how unequal England actually is. People have lived parallel lives over the last 18 months.
“People in low-paid, insecure work have often had little choice in their level of exposure to Covid, and the risk of getting it and bringing it back home to those they live with.
“Levelling up needs to start in the communities that have been hit hardest by the pandemic. To improve the nation’s physical and mental health, we need to start by giving all of our fellow citizens a good job and good home.”