The contribution of age structure to the number of deaths from Covid-19 in the UK by geographical units

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This study investigates the contribution of population age structure to mortality from Covid-19 in the UK by geographical units. We project death rates at various spatial scales by applying data on age-specific fatality rates to the area's population by age and sex. Our analysis shows a significant variation in the projected death rates between the constituent countries of the UK, between its regions and within regions. First, Scotland and Wales have higher projected fatality levels from Covid-19 than England, whereas Northern Ireland has lower rate. Second, the infection fatality rates are projected to be substantially higher in small towns and rural areas than those in large urban areas. Third, our analysis shows that within urban regions there are also 'pockets' of high projected death rates. Overall, the areas with high and low fatality rates tend to cluster because of the high residential separation of different population age-groups in the UK. Our analysis also reveals that the Welsh-, Gaelic- and Cornish-speaking communities with relatively old populations are likely to experience heavy population losses if the virus spreads widely across the UK.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.Funding StatementThis research was supported by Economic and Social Research Council grant ES/K007394/1 and carried out in the ESRC Centre for Population Change (CPC).Author DeclarationsAll relevant ethical guidelines have been followed; any necessary IRB and/or ethics committee approvals have been obtained and details of the IRB/oversight body are included in the manuscript.YesAll necessary patient/participant consent has been obtained and the appropriate institutional forms have been archived.YesI understand that all clinical trials and any other prospective interventional studies must be registered with an ICMJE-approved registry, such as I confirm that any such study reported in the manuscript has been registered and the trial registration ID is provided (note: if posting a prospective study registered retrospectively, please provide a statement in the trial ID field explaining why the study was not registered in advance).Yes I have followed all appropriate research reporting guidelines and uploaded the relevant EQUATOR Network research reporting checklist(s) and other pertinent material as supplementary files, if applicable.YesAll data-sets are available at the ONS and NRS websites.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2020


  • COVID-19
  • Infectious diseases
  • fatality
  • Mortality
  • Demographic projection
  • Spatial analysis


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