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People with learning disabilities “extremely vulnerable” to the effects of COVID-19

16 July, 2021

A&E sign at the QE Hospital in Birmingham

People with learning disabilities with COVID-19 are five times more likely to be admitted to hospital and eight times more likely to die compared with the general population of England, according to a new study in The BMJ.

Led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and the University of Oxford, the research found risks were particularly high for those with severe to profound learning disability, Down’s syndrome and cerebral palsy.

The researchers say prompt access to COVID-19 testing and healthcare is warranted for this group, and prioritisation for COVID-19 vaccination and other targeted preventive measures should be considered.

Read more about this study, co-produced with HPRU researchers, on the LSHTM website here.

Read the article published in The Guardian on 15th July 2021 here.


Elizabeth J Williamson et al. Risks of COVID-19 hospital admission and death for people with learning disability: population based cohort study using the OpenSAFELY platform. The BMJ. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.n1592 

An easy read summary of this research is also available.