The impacts of COVID-19 on people with disabilities: a rapid review. Disability Inclusion Helpdesk Query No: 35

MEANIE-DAVIS, Jessie
LEE, Harri
CORBY, Nick
Publication Date 
April 2020
33 pp

There is currently very limited data and evidence on the impacts of COVID-19 on people with disabilities and pre-existing health conditions, with no disability-disaggregated data on mortality rates available in the public sphere. However, reports from the media, disability advocates and disabled peoples’ organisations (DPOs) point to several emerging impacts, including primary and secondary impacts including on health, education, food security and livelihoods.  Most of the available data is from high income countries (HICs) though reports from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are likely to emerge. Evidence was gathered by a rapid desk based review. Gaps are identified. 

 

The section concerned with lessons drawn from similar epidemics draws heavily on lessons learned from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014-2016, and touches on lessons from the Zika outbreak in 2015-2016 and the SARS pandemic in the early 2000s.10 It also touches briefly on SARS, MERS and H1N1 (swine flu). 

 

Primary and secondary impacts of COVID-19 on people with disabilities are reviewed.


People with disabilities are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 not only because it can exacerbate underlying medical conditions, but because of attitudinal, environmental and institutional barriers to their participation in and benefit from the pandemic response. For example, inaccessible public health messaging and healthcare facilities, and stigma and discrimination.

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