The Institute of Alcohol Studies has today released a report “Estimating the long-term health impacts of changes in alcohol consumption in England during the COVID-19 pandemic” which includes modelling undertaken by HealthLumen.

The pandemic saw heavier drinkers consuming more alcohol and this trend is continuing. If consumption does not return to 2019 levels or lower, the modelling shows that England could see an additional 147,892 cases and 9,914 additional premature deaths from nine alcohol-related diseases, costing the NHS £1.2bn.

The projected increases in premature deaths were larger among those less well-off in society, further widening inequalities. The report warns that as the study provides a snapshot of a small number of the 200 diseases related to alcohol, the true impact is likely to be far greater. The researchers highlight that the results are consistent with real-world increases in alcoholic liver disease and alcohol-specific deaths that have occurred since the onset of the pandemic.

IAS’ chief executive, Dr Alison Giles, said that the Government’s impending Health Disparities White Paper has to include policies to reduce alcohol harm if it wants to stand any hope of tackling rising health inequality exacerbated by the pandemic.

Full report

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