During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in England, several population characteristics were associated with an increased risk of death from the virus, including age, ethnicity, income, deprivation, care home residence and housing conditions. Public health agencies wanted to understand how these vulnerability factors were distributed across their communities.
Daras et al. from the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration North West Coast (NIHR ARC NWC) analysed 6,789 small areas in England and assessed the association between COVID-19 mortality in each area and five vulnerability measures relating to ethnicity, poverty, and prevalence of long-term health conditions, living in care homes and living in overcrowded housing. They developed a Small Area Vulnerability Index (SAVI) modelling tool, which forecasts the vulnerability of the local population to the virus.
The data identified noticeably higher levels of vulnerability to COVID-19 clustered within specific communities in the North West, West Midlands and North East regions.