Dan Scorer, Head of Policy at Mencap, said:

“Public Health England data has shown that people with a learning disability are dying of coronavirus up to six times the rate of the general population – they must be given greater priority for the COVID vaccine.[i] 

“Today, the JCVI only made modest changes to prioritising people with a learning disability. The question must be asked whether this is enough to address the shocking rate of deaths amongst people with a learning disability, who already faced serious health inequalities before COVID.  The pandemic has exacerbated these inequalities and they can no longer be ignored, too many people have already died."


For further information or to arrange an interview with a Mencap spokesperson or case study, please contact Mencap’s media team on: media@mencap.org.uk or 020 7696 5414 (including out of hours).         

Notes to editors

[i] Public Health England (2020)  COVID 19 deaths of people identified as having learning disabilities: summary. These figures are based on deaths reported the Disabilities Mortality Review (LeDeR) programme, and deaths in hospitals from NHS England’s COVID-19 Patient Notification System (CPNS), and are adjusted for under-reporting. Standardising for age and sex, the rate of COVID-19 deaths notified to LeDeR, from 21st March to 5th June 2020, was 4.1 times the rate for the general population. Adjusting this for under-reporting, the rate is estimated at 6.3 times the general population rate.

About Mencap   

There are approximately 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want. 

Visit www.mencap.org.uk.  

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap’s Freephone Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (10am-3pm, Monday-Friday) or email help@mencap.org.uk.         

What is a learning disability?

  • A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life;    
  • Learning disability is not a mental illness or a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’;     
  • People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.