The importance of census information in the response to COVID-19 video transcript

Jonny Tinsley, Head of Data, Health Analysis and Life Events Division:

Your census data has been incredibly important for ONS’s response to the pandemic.

By combining it with our mortality data, we’ve been able to uncover some really important inequalities in COVID-19 mortality between different groups.

And that’s been really crucial for the government’s response to the pandemic.

The census data and mortality data are both really sensitive data sources. So, we take security and confidentiality really seriously here at the ONS.

As many people may know then the census data is not released until 100 years after the census is taken.

And we never share it beyond ONS during that time.

Dr. Vahé Nafilyan, Head of Cross-cutting Analysis, Health Analysis and Life Events Division:

The Office for National Statistics has been at the forefront of the analytical response to the pandemic.

We’ve been producing a wide range of mortality statistics, and a big part of this has been relying on the use of the 2011 census.

Jonny Tinsley, Head of Data, Health Analysis and Life Events Division:

So, what we’ve done is we’ve linked the census 2011 data to all of our death registration data, at an individual level, and that’s allowed us to then understand better the death registration data through the census data where we find the people that have died in the census data, we’ll then know everything that the census captures about them.

So, their ethnicity, their religion, their occupation, their disability status from back in 2011 and that then allows us to break down the death statistics that we produce by those factors and look into if there are differences, for example, in COVID-19 mortality by something like ethnicity, which is really useful and important.

Dr. Vahé Nafilyan, Head of Cross-cutting Analysis, Health Analysis and Life Events Division:

By using the census data, we’ve been able to look at breakdowns of mortality statistics that no other organisation or even countries in the world have been able to do.

We fully intend to use the 2021 census data to continue monitoring the difference the effect of the pandemic on people’s health and life circumstances.

So, a big area is long COVID, so we’ll be using this data to look at the long-term consequences of COVID-19 infection not only on people’s health but also on people’s economic outcomes, and jobs, earnings, the disability benefits, et cetera.

So, we will carry on providing analysis to inform public health policies and ultimately improve people’s lives.