News

BAME People Up to 50 Percent More Likely to Die of Covid Than White British

A new government report illustrates the disparity in the rate of coronavirus infections and deaths.
02 June 2020, 12:55pm
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Photo: Chris Bethell

A report titled "Disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19" was published by the UK government today, confirming what we already knew: that BAME people have been disproportionately affected by coronavirus.

Analysis by Public Health England showed that, after accounting for age, sex, region and deprivation, people of Bangladeshi heritage were around twice as likely to die from the virus than White British people. Those of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, Other Asian, Caribbean and Other Black ethnicity had between a 10 to 50 percent higher risk of death when compared to White British.

Explaining that disparity, the report states:

Firstly, people of BAME communities are likely to be at increased risk of acquiring the infection. This is because BAME people are more likely to live in urban areas, in overcrowded households, in deprived areas, and have jobs that expose them to higher risk. People of BAME groups are also more likely than people of White British ethnicity to be born abroad, which means they may face additional barriers in accessing services that are created by, for example, cultural and language differences.

Secondly, people of BAME communities are also likely to be at increased risk of poorer outcomes once they acquire the infection. For example, some co-morbidities which increase the risk of poorer outcomes from COVID-19 are more common among certain ethnic groups. People of Bangladeshi and Pakistani background have higher rates of cardiovascular disease than people from White British ethnicity, and people of Black Caribbean and Black African ethnicity have higher rates of hypertension compared with other ethnic groups. Data from the National Diabetes Audit suggests that type II diabetes prevalence is higher in people from BAME communities

Announcing the report, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there will be another review into why BAME people in particular are more at risk from coronavirus, telling MPs: "I'm determined that we continue to develop our understanding and shape our response. And I'm pleased to announce that the equalities minister [Liz Truss] will be leading on this work and taking it forward, working with [Public Health England] and others to further understand the impact."

The largest disparity found nationwide was age: those aged 80 or over were 70 times more likely to die from the virus than people under 40, while the risk of death was also higher for males than females, and for people living in more deprived areas.

The report also found "a particularly high increase in all cause deaths among those born outside the UK and Ireland", as well as among frontline workers such as nursing assistants and care home staff; taxi and minicab drivers; and those working as security guards and in "related occupations".