Covid-19 cases in Birmingham: 12% more deaths recorded for men than women

Public health report compares which areas of Birmingham were hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic

A public health report has identified that the number of men that died after testing positive for Covid-19 in Birmingham was significantly higher than women.

Using Office for National Statistics (ONS) data looking at the period from April 2020 to March 2021 a total of 2,533 Covid deaths were identified in the city.

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The number of men who died in this period was 1,405 - which is 12% higher than the figure for women which stands at 1,128.

The findings have been published on Birmingham City Council’s website and were presented to councillors at a meeting by Dr Julia Duke-Macrae, consultant in public health.

The data refers to the number of people who died after testing positive for Covid-19 within 28 days, so the infection may not have been the cause of death in all cases.

The papers states the majority of those who died from Covid-19 (78%) had other underlying conditions with pneumonia, diabetes mellitus and hypertension being the most common other factors.

The city council has said this figure is “unlikely to have captured all Covid deaths” and may rise.

Out of the total considered, there were 416 deaths among those aged 15 to 64 and 2,117 among those aged over 65.

The statistics also analyse which areas of Birmingham were hardest hit by the pandemic, how different ethnic communities were affected and what occupation those who died were in.

Here’s a breakdown of the information for each of those areas:

Maps showing Birmingham Covid death rates, deprivation and population density

Which Birmingham wards were hardest hit by the pandemic?

Sparkbrook and Balsall Heath East, Lozells and Aston have been the hardest hit in terms of excess deaths during the pandemic, papers show.

In the worst affected ward – Sparkbrook and Balsall Heath East – registered deaths were twice the number expected between April 2020 and March 2021.

The average increase in deaths across all wards was 35 per cent, with the lowest increase of three per cent occurring in Tyseley and Hay Mills.

Not all of the excess deaths were Covid deaths – but 40 per cent of deaths registered in Sparkbrook and Balsall Heath East were due to the virus.

Bartley Green had the lowest proportion of Covid deaths in relation to all registered deaths at 12.2 per cent, while the average across all wards was 23.5 per cent.

It was also observed that the higher deprivation levels in the ward – by its index of multiple deprivation score – the higher the Covid death rate.

At the same time, wards with higher population densities had higher death rates than those with lower population densities.

In terms of place of death, 78 per cent of Covid deaths occurred in hospital while 11 per cent took place in a care home and eight per cent happened at home.

How does Birmingham compare to the rest of the country?

Among “peer/comparator” areas including Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield, Birmingham’s ratio of registered deaths compared to how many were expected was second only to Leicester at 1.25.

How did the figures compare across different community groups in Birmingham?

In terms of ethnicity, the papers identify white (British, Irish and other white) as the group with the highest number of Covid deaths at 1,611 or 58 per cent of the total.

This was followed by the Asian group including Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian and Chinese people – where there were 644 deaths or 23 per cent of the total.

There were 211 deaths among African/Caribbean communities – eight per cent of the total.

But Caribbean residents had the highest ratio of Covid deaths in relation to their population size, while British, Pakistani and Indian residents had roughly an expected number of deaths for their population sizes.

The paper states wards with higher Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) populations had higher rates of Covid deaths.

One ward with a BME population close to 90 per cent had 800 Covid deaths per 100,000, compared to wards with around 10 per cent BME population which had a Covid death rate of around 100 per 100k.

Ratio of deaths to expected deaths by ward in Birmingham

Were people working in certain sectors adversely affected by Covid-19?

People working in the category of “skilled trades and technical occupation” – such as warehouse workers, electricians and seamstresses – saw the highest number of Covid deaths at 509, or 20 per cent of the total.

“Caring personal service occupations” – including housewives, care assistants and cleaners – saw the next highest number of Covid deaths at 503.

Those working in “culture, media and sports occupations” had the lowest number of deaths.

Birmingham City Council House, Victoria Square

What needs to be done to stop Covid-19 cases from increasing?

The papers state: “Health interventions such as lockdowns, social distancing, face mask, hand washing and vaccines have all played a key role in reducing hospital admissions and deaths.”

Deaths from Covid were seen to decrease in wards with higher take up of the first dose of vaccine.

Wards with the highest Covid death rates generally had a vaccine uptake of less than 40 per cent while those with the lowest Covid death rates had a vaccine uptake of more than 80 per cent.

Making recommendations, the paper states: “There is need to continue with the improvement of the uptake of the Covid-19 vaccines and compliance with other non-pharmaceutical interventions whenever these are introduced to break the chain of Covid-19 transmission.

“Continued engagement with at-risk groups in the uptake of health interventions [is recommended]. These include the BME group, people with underlying health conditions and those in the skilled trades and caring personal service occupations.”

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