A study conducted by a team of researchers in the United Kingdom has suggested that people with disabilities, who contract the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), are five times more likely to be hospitalised and eight times more likely to succumb due to Covid-19 than the general population of England. Published in the journal “The BMJ,” the study also found that risks were particularly high for people with severe to profound disabilities, Down’s syndrome, and cerebral palsy.
To study the effect of Covid-19 on people with disabilities, the team of researchers analysed the data for 14,312,023 adults and 2,627,018 children across both wave of the coronavirus pandemic. While the first wave was registered from March 1, 2020, to August 31, 2020, the second wave was registered from September 1, 2020, till February 8, 2021.
The results of the study for the 90,307 adults on the disability register were as follows: 538 (or 0.6%) had a Covid-19 related hospitalisation, there were 222 deaths (0.25%) due to the viral disease and 602 fatalities (0.66%) were not related to the infection.
On the other hand, the corresponding numbers for more than 14 million adults not on the disability register were as follows: 29,781 (or 0.20%) had a Covid-19 related hospitalisation, there were 13,737 deaths (0.1%) due to the viral disease and 69,837 fatalities (0.5%) fatalities were not related to it.
Next, potentially influencing factors such as age, sex, ethnicity, geographical location were accounted for and it was found that adults who contract coronavirus had a five-fold higher risk of hospitalisation, as well as eight-fold higher risk of deaths than adults not on the disability register.
Similar patterns were recorded among children as well though the researchers mentioned that absolute risk of hospitalisation and death were “small.”
However, the researchers clarified that these were observational findings and, as such, have some limitations, including focusing only on severe Covid-19 outcomes and the inability to identify everyone with a learning disability from medical records alone.
Finally, the study concluded that besides vaccination, efforts to protect people with learning disabilities from severe Covid-19 outcomes should continue. It also called for further research on the excess Covid-19 risks on people with Down’s Syndrome and cerebral palsy.
(With ANI inputs)