News | Published June 03 2020

Covid-19: Ethnic minorities at higher risk according to report

A report compiled by Public Health England has concluded that coronavirus poses a higher risk of death to individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds.

The review into the matter was commissioned when it emerged that people of ethnic minority backgrounds were becoming more severely ill after becoming infected with coronavirus.

The report was put together using data from thousands of existing health records and other statistics kept throughout the pandemic, while looking into various factors.

The reasons behind the disproportionate effects of the virus on people of different ethnic backgrounds remain unclear, but the report indicates that individuals from Asian, Caribbean, and black backgrounds are most at risk compared to their white counterparts.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has called on the government to publish a "comprehensive race equality strategy" following the report’s findings.

Looking at the findings of the report in depth, individuals from Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, other Asian, Caribbean, and other Black backgrounds had a ten per cent to 50 per cent higher risk of death when compared to white British people.

Meanwhile, individuals from Bangladeshi backgrounds were said to be twice as likely to die of Covid-19 than white Brits.

The ethnicity study did not acknowledge risk factors such as occupation or obesity, but the report acknowledged separately that certain occupations such as frontline health workers, security guards, and taxi and bus drivers were of increased risk regardless of background.

Age is another major risk factor, with individuals aged 80 or above judged to be 70 times more likely to die of the virus than under 40s, while men of working age were shown to be twice as likely to die as working-age women when contracting the virus.

Risk of death has also been shown to be higher among people living in more deprived areas of the country.

It was not possible to combine all the considered factors to estimate an individual person’s risk, because of how the source data was recorded.

The report added that more research is required to help advise the public about risks associated with ethnicity.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, health secretary Matt Hancock said that the pandemic has “exposed huge disparities in the health of our nation”, with ethnic background emerging as a “major risk factor”.

He added that he understood public anger over “injustices” and felt a “deep responsibility” to address.

Hancock said: "It is very clear that some people are significantly more vulnerable to Covid-19 and this is something I'm determined to understand in full and take action to address.

"Black lives matter, as do those of the poorest areas of our country".

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Authored by

Alexander Bridge-Wilkinson
Junior Editor
June 03 2020

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