Last updated: 19 October 2020

COVID-19 causes harm to people’s health, to our society and to our economy. This site presents data and evidence on what we refer to as the Four Harms of COVID-19. These are the direct impact of COVID-19, other health impacts, societal impacts, and economic impacts.

The Scottish Government is monitoring evidence on the different harms and is using this information to inform decisions about COVID-19. This includes how we move through phases of the Coronavirus Route Map.

We are presenting this information to bring transparency to our work and decisions on the crisis, and to support understanding and public engagement with some of the very difficult issues that we face.

The virus will impact different groups of people in different ways, and our society will be affected in different ways over time. We’re carefully monitoring the data and regularly update this site with new evidence.



COVID-19 causes direct and tragic harm to people’s health. As a result of people following the guidance the number of people getting COVID-19, the number of hospital and ICU admissions, and the number of deaths were reduced but we still have some way to go.

COVID-19 is also having a wider impact on health and social care through its impact on services and how people are using those services. These changes will have an impact on people’s health in both the short term and long term.

The restrictions put in place have slowed the spread of the virus. But these restrictions have caused broader societal harms. Many people report feeling isolated and anxious, and school closures have affected children’s education and wellbeing. These harms can be more difficult to measure. So we’re using a wider range of evidence to understand them.

The economy is central to our wellbeing, whether through the provision of direct services and goods, provision of taxes to fund public services like health and welfare, or by providing opportunities for employment and income. These have all been impacted by COVID-19. Some of the changes we’ve seen may stay with us for some time.

This site provides an overview of what is happening across Scotland over time for the Four Harms. Other sites provide different types of information which you may also find helpful:

This site will be updated and expanded regularly. We will continue to add new information, such as the impact of COVID-19 on different groups in society.