England entered the penultimate stage of its unlocking today, but optimism about the future is being tempered by outbreaks of a new Covid-19 variant in Bolton and Blackburn. The Indian variant known as B.1.617.2 is thought to be more transmissible than the strain of the virus that first emerged in Kent last winter and subsequently led to a surge in deaths.
Matters will hopefully be different this time owing to the protection provided by vaccines. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the type of area being hit by Covid-19. There is a strong correlation between deprivation levels and the degree to which areas are affected.
The correlation isn’t perfect and doesn’t factor in metrics such as population density, but the areas currently experiencing new outbreaks, Bolton and Blackburn, rank second and third behind Leicester for days with high case rates since the pandemic began.
We can only speculate about the reasons for this relationship – likely including reduced ability to work from home, families living in overcrowded accommodation and higher concentrations of harder-to-reach communities – but the unequal impact of Covid-19 is undeniable.