UK ethnic minority coronavirus death rate more than double than that of whites

UK ethnic minority coronavirus death rate more than double than that of whites
A new report into Covid-19 deaths in the UK has found that ethnic minority citizens are more than twice as likely as white people to die from coronavirus complications.
3 min read
01 May, 2020
Ethnic minority Britons are dying of coronavirus at worryingly high rates [Getty]

The death rate from coronavirus among British people of Pakistani and black African origin is more than 2.5 times that of the white population, according to a new report on Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) deaths.

This report, from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) think-tank, also found that deaths of people from black Caribbean background were 1.7 times higher than white Britons.

The NHS recently published figures showing hospital deaths per 100,000 people among black Caribbean Britons were three times the equivalent of their white counterparts.

The IFS research, published on Friday, found that by not accounting for age, gender and geography, there is no explanation for why so many more BAME people are dying.

Incorporating age, gender, and geography gives an even higher rate for some groups – British black Africans tend to die 3.5 times more often, and British Pakistanis 2.7 times more often than white British coronavirus patients.

Comment: We don't need a dubious Covid-19 inquiry to know BAME communities need the most help

“When you account for the fact that most minority groups are relatively young overall, the number of deaths looks disproportionate in most ethnic minority groups,” Ross Warwick, a research economist at IFS and co-author of the report told The Guardian.

“There is unlikely to be a single explanation here and different factors may be more important for different groups. For instance, while black Africans are particularly likely to be employed in key worker roles which might put them at risk, older Bangladeshis appear vulnerable on the basis of underlying health conditions.”

Possible reasons

The report goes into detail about possible reasons why such a disparity exists. A third of all working-age Black Africans are employed as key workers – 50 per cent more than the white population.

Similarly Pakistani, Indian and Black African men are 90 per cent, 150 per cent, and 310 per cent more likely to work in health care than white men, respectively.

This means that these groups are exposed to Covid-19 at much higher rates than white Britons.

Health conditions may also be another factor, with two-thirds of British Bangladeshi men over the age of 60 having reported long-term health conditions, as well as underlying health issues that are more prevalent in those of Pakistani or black Caribbean background.

The UK government announced in the middle of April that it was launching a formal investigation into why Covid-19 has BAME backgrounds.

The review will be led by the National Health Service (NHS) and Public Health England, following findings that more than a third of seriously ill coronavirus patients were from BAME communities, who represent just 13 per cent of the UK population.

The probe follows calls from the Labour Party and the British Medical Association (BMA) for an investigation into why non-white Brits seem to be more affected by the disease, including a "deeply disturbing" number of deaths of BAME health workers.

The first 10 UK doctors who died from Covid-19 were from ethnic minority backgrounds.

"We have seen, both across the population as a whole but in those who work in the NHS, a much higher proportion who've died from minority backgrounds and that really worries me," the UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said at the time.

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