Health

Ethnic minorities more likely to die of Covid ‘due to where they live and work’, major report finds

ETHNIC minorities are more likely to die of the coronavirus “due to where they live and work”, a major report has found.

Experts have said that a focus on jobs and housing rather than racism, would help more people who contract the virus.

The graph above shows the death rate in ethnic minority groups compared to white people

The government’s Race Disparity Unity led the first quarterly report on Covid disparities, with the minister for equalities, Kemi Badenoch.

An earlier report released by Public Health England (PHE), had previously stated that racism could contribute to the high death toll among ethnic minorities.

However, one scientist advising the board said racism should not be a factor when it comes down to who should receive extra help.

Dr Raghib Ali said poorer groups of white people, who live in crowded housing could miss out on help if experts just focused on minority groups.

The authors of the new report analysed data from PHE reports as well as data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

A previous report published by PHE stated: “Historic racism and poorer experiences of healthcare or at work may mean that individuals in BAME groups are less likely to seek care when needed or as NHS staff are less likely to speak up when they have concerns about personal protective equipment or risk.”

It doesn’t make sense to put all ethnic minorities in the same basket as it doesn’t make sense to put all whites in the same basket

Dr Raghib Ali

In June a study also found that people from the BAME community were twice as likely to die from the virus.

That same study also found that working class men were more likely to die than women.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said people who are being admitted to intensive care “are not white”.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the council chair of the BMA said: “As we sit amid a second wave of infections, we know that about a third of those admitted to intensive care are not white – showing no change since the first peak.

“Meanwhile, black and Asian people have been found twice as likely to be infected compared to white people.”

The report found that there were a range of factors as to why people in BAME groups are more likely to be severely affected by the bug.

It found that those most affected were people living in urban areas with greater population density – so big cities such as London and Birmingham.

Where people worked also had an impact – with the report finding that black people are more likely to work in the health sector than others.

Pre-existing health conditions, as well as the amount of people a person lived with, were also factors.

Dr Ali said that age and where people lived were the two biggest factors, but added that there was still a “small part” of excess risk that was left unexplained for some ethnic groups.

Dr Ali also suggested that there should be a personalised risk assessment for people, rather than just assuming each person in an ethnic group will follow the same pattern.

Getty Images – Getty

Experts have said that people should be assessed on an individual basis rather than on race[/caption]

He said: “The problem with focusing on ethnicity as a risk factor is that it misses the very large number of non-ethnic minority groups, so whites basically, who also live in deprived areas and overcrowded housing and with high risk occupations.

“It doesn’t make sense to put all ethnic minorities in the same basket as it doesn’t make sense to put all whites in the same basket.”

The report has been welcomed by other experts but Dr Hajira Dambha-Miller said the report does not go far enough – and added that more social factors needed to be included.

The report concluded that a tool is now being developed by the University of Oxford, which will help both doctors and individuals understand their risk of Covid – due to their personal circumstances.

It also recommended that work risk assessments should be made available to everyone and not just those in the BAME group, this they said would help protect all people in need of support.

Ethnicity will now also be visible on death certificates, to establish a clear picture in terms of the impact the virus has on ethnic groups.

Speaking to the BBC Ms Badenoch said: “Quite often people expect there will be an announcement that will be specifically just for ethnic minorities but actually the risk profile for vulnerability goes across many different groups.

“We have made sure all of the work we have done, all of the action taken to safeguard people’s lives have been done across the population as a whole, with a particular focus on the vulnerable.”

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