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UK report shows BAME people at higher risk of Covid-19

The study shows that black, Asian and ethnic minority people are at a higher risk of dying from Covid-19

A woman wearing a mask in London.
A woman wearing a mask in London.
Image: Isabel Infantes/PA Images

A UK study has found that black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people are at significantly higher risk of dying from Covid-19.

The study, from Public Health England (PHE), looked at the risk factors for coronavirus and found BAME individuals have a much higher risk of death than white people, as do those from poorer backgrounds, men and anyone who is obese or suffering from diabetes.

UK health secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons today that the evidence showed that coronavirus targets people in an “unequal and disproportionate way”.

“Black lives matter, as do those of the poorest areas of our country which have worse health outcomes and we need to make sure all of these considerations are taken into account, and action is taken to level-up the health outcomes of people across this country,” he said. 

The report showed that, after accounting for the effect of sex, age, deprivation and region, people of Bangladeshi ethnicity have around twice the risk of death than people who are white British.

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

The highest diagnosis Covid-19 rates per 100,000 population are in black people (486 females and 649 males), and are lowest in white people (220 in females and 224 in males).

Compared to previous years, death from all causes are now almost four times higher than expected among black males, almost three times higher in Asian males and almost two times higher in white males.

Among females, deaths were almost three times higher in black, mixed and other females, and 2.4 times higher in Asian females compared with 1.6 times in white females.

The study said the “relationship between ethnicity and health is complex and likely to be the result of a combination of factors”.

For example, BAME people are likely to be at increased risk of acquiring the infection due to the fact they are more likely to live in urban areas, in overcrowded households, in deprived areas, and have jobs that expose them to higher risk, the study said.

BAME communities are also likely to be at increased risk of poorer outcomes once they contract Covid-19.

The study said some of this is due to underlying health issues, with people of Bangladeshi and Pakistani background having higher rates of cardiovascular disease than people who are white British.

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Black Caribbean and Black African people also have higher rates of blood pressure, while Type 2 diabetes, which has obesity as its main driver, is more common in BAME individuals.

The study also found that men working as security guards, taxi drivers and chauffeurs, bus and coach drivers, chefs, sales and retail assistants, lower skilled workers in construction and processing plants, and men and women working in social care, had significantly high rates of death from Covid-19.

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