Poverty and the pandemic


Sir, – Derry and Strabane currently have the highest incidence of Covid-19 in the UK and Ireland. Freya McClements (News, October 17th) lists the causes of this public health emergency as complacency and cross-border travel. Poverty may, however, be the “cause of these causes”.

Derry and Strabane have five of the top 10 most deprived areas in Northern Ireland. Derry boasts the lowest number of university places per capita for any city in Ireland, the highest percentage of economically inactive people in the UK (34.1 per cent) and the highest percentage of schoolchildren entitled to free school-meals in Northern Ireland (43.3 per cent).

Rudolf Virchow, a 19th-century German pathologist, understood that “medicine is a social science and politics is nothing else than medicine on a large scale”. It is little surprise that the second wave of Covid-19 has become a syndemic for places like Derry, and Strabane. – Yours, etc,


Consultant Neurologist,

Altnagelvin Hospital,