News | Published May 03 2020

Covid-19 patients from ethnic minority backgrounds are more vulnerable, study says

A study carried out by the Institute for Fiscal Studies [IFS] shows that Covid-19 patients from ethnic minority backgrounds are more vulnerable to the virus, with individuals from black African backgrounds dying at triple the rate of white Britons in England and Wales.

The study showed that more people from ethnic minority backgrounds resided in areas that had been more heavily afflicted with the virus, yet they were younger on average and so should, in theory, not be as vulnerable.

Yet, Asian and minority ethnic groups are seeing a higher rate of per capita deaths due to Covid-19.

Individuals of black African descent were shown to be particularly at risk, dying at a 3.5 times higher rate than white Britons.

For those of black Caribbean heritage, per capita deaths were 1.7 times higher, while for people with Pakistani heritage it was 2.7 times more.

A government review is currently underway as to why the virus is affecting ethnic minorities more severely.

Meanwhile, figureheads at NHS England have issued a letter to trusts and GPs, advising that staff from ethnic minority backgrounds should be “risk-assessed”.

IFS research economist Ross Warwick suggested that some ethnic minorities could be more at risk due to the fact that they were more likely to occupy key worker roles.

Warwick said: "Black Africans are particularly likely to be employed in key worker roles which might put them at risk. Older Bangladeshis also appear vulnerable on the basis of underlying health conditions."

Two-thirds of Bangladeshi men over the age of 60 who are living in the UK are estimated to have a long-term health condition that would count them among the ‘at risk’ group.

Warwick’s suggestion about key worker roles is supported by the research, with 20 per cent of black African women said to be employed in health and social care roles, while Pakistani men are deemed 150 per cent more likely to work in healthcare roles than white Britons.

14 per cent of doctors are also comprised of Indian people, the research shows.

According to the BBC, 84 of the 135 healthcare workers who have died of Covid-19 came from ethnic minority backgrounds. 

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Authored by

Alexander Bridge-Wilkinson
Junior Editor
May 03 2020

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