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The negative health effects and mortality caused by the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately fell upon older and disabled people. Protecting these vulnerable groups has been a key policy priority throughout the pandemic and related vaccination campaigns. Using data from the latest survey of the UK Household Longitudinal Study on COVID-19 we found that people who receive informal care have higher probability of being infected when compared to those not receiving informal care. Further, we found that care recipients who are in the lowest income groups have a higher probability of catching the virus when compared to those in the highest income groups. We also estimated the likelihood of being infected for informal carers versus those who did not provide any care during the pandemic and found no significant differences between these two groups. Our empirical findings suggest that the standard measures introduced with the aim of protecting vulnerable groups, such as closing care homes or prioritising the vaccination of their staff, were not sufficient to avoid the spread of the virus amongst disabled and older people. Informal carers play an important role in the social care sector. As such, protecting vulnerable people by investing in the informal care sector should be a priority for future health policy.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization

Publication Date





468 - 488