Could Poverty underpin High COVID rates?

Sitting in West Northamptonshire, I had cause to read yet another Press Release today on the subject of COVID infection rates in Corby, which of course sits in the new North Northamptonshire Unitary Area. The Release can be viewed via the link below:

Press release Corby COVID-19 case rates amongst highest in England (2).pdf

When I sat as part of the Voluntary Sector Emergencies Partnership at the height of the Pandemic, Corby was constantly and regularly mentioned as an area of concern. It was then, as it is now, displaying one of the highest C19 infection rates within the UK. The Press Release mentions a number of reasons why this might be the case: It talks of children going back into a school environment, it mentions low vaccine take up rates, it talks of colder weather and remarks on the mixing of households. It does not mention financial vulnerability at all, yet it strikes me that high rates of C19 could intrinsically be linked to Poverty.

If you work in low paid employment the last issue you probably want to declare is that you have COVID. This means effectively self-isolating, probably not being paid by your employer whilst you are self- isolating and therefore as a direct result slipping closer to whatever the Poverty Line is now defined as. I wonder if that explains low vaccine take up or vaccine resistance. For many not knowing and working through COVID is better than any alternative on offer. Our most recent Poverty Truth Survey (which is still ongoing) has revealed that 47% of respondents stated categorically that access to Nutritious Food is a real issue. If that’s the case, then families (who are probably culturally already close knit by design) will share food, and by the act of so doing will mix: Our Survey also identified the cost of any form of transport as a real issue. Workers on a minimum wage will probably car share and as a result might naturally spread the virus. Furthermore, if you are living on a minimum wage and struggling with Financial Vulnerability, your health might suffer and therefore you could, by default, be more prone to catching the virus in the first instance: And  so the circle of Inequality continues. We could therefore proffer an argument that says high COVID rates could have more to do with Poverty and Inequality than anything else. To me, the latest Press Release omits more than it says. In the West we now have a Poverty Truth Commission which is attempting to look at these type of multi-faceted but often associated factors. We are looking for real people in real communities to tell their stories about how Inequality of Financial Vulnerability affects their lives. We will attempt to weave these into the fabric of Policy Making. It will not be an easy task, but Truth Commissions have been successful across the UK. I would urge the North Unitary Authority to embark on their own Poverty Truth Commission: If we start to unpick the spiders web of issues which surround Poverty, this latest Press Release would perhaps mean more to the majority of individuals that currently live within Corby.

Russell Rolph CEO VIN