Coronavirus: Risk of dying is higher for ethnic minorities

Public Health England has released its report looking at why people from ethnic minority backgrounds are «disproportionately» dying with coronavirus.

It shows age remains the biggest risk factor. Being male is another.

But if you strip out age and sex, people of Bangladeshi ethnicity have twice the risk of death than people of white British ethnicity.

The risk is higher for other Asian, Caribbean and black ethnicities too.

But it remains unclear why.

The analysis on ethnicity and risk did not consider a person’s occupation or obesity, even though both are known risk factors for getting seriously ill with coronavirus.

It acknowledges that more work is needed to understand and advise people about the risk.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons the report was timely work.

«People are understandably angry about injustices and as Health Secretary I feel a deep responsibility because this pandemic has exposed huge disparities in the health of our nation.

«This work underlines that being black or from a minority ethnic background is a major risk factor,» he 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» and health outcomes need to be «levelled-up,» he added.

On Monday night, the Department of Health and Social Care denied reports the delay was down to official concerns of potential civil unrest linked to global anger over the death of African-American George Floyd.

What’s in the review?

The rapid review was launched when it became clear that some people were getting more sick with coronavirus than others.

Public Health England reviewed thousands of existing health records and other coronavirus data.

The report looks at disparities by:

  • age and sex

  • geography

  • deprivation

  • ethnicity

  • pre-existing health problems or comorbidities

It is not possible to combine all of these factors together to judge an individual’s risk because of the way the source data is recorded.

The data does, however, reveal clear inequalities.

What has it found?

The report says people aged 80 or older are 70 times more likely to die than those under 40.

Working-age men diagnosed with Covid-19 are twice as likely to die as women.

The risk of dying with coronavirus is higher among those living in more deprived parts of the UK.

The report says certain occupations – security guards, taxi or bus drivers and construction workers and social care staff – are at higher risk.

For ethnicity, coronavirus death rates were highest among people of Black and Asian ethnic groups when compared to white British ethnicity.

People of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, other Asian, Caribbean and other Black ethnicity had between a 10% and 50% higher risk of death when compared to white British.


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