Coronavirus: Black and ethnic minority people more likely to catch Covid-19 and die from it

Report commissioned by says people of Bangladeshi origin twice as likely to die than white Britons

Matt Hancock said the pandemic had "exposed huge disparities in the health of our nation". Reuters
Matt Hancock said the pandemic had "exposed huge disparities in the health of our nation". Reuters

People with a black, Asian or minority ethnic background are at a higher risk of dying in England from Covid-19, an official study has confirmed, but questions remain as to why.

England’s health agency had been forced to deny claims that the report would be delayed so it would not coincide with the widespread anger over the killing of African-American George Floyd in the US.

The report by Public Health England showed people from a Bangladeshi background had about twice the rate of dying than white British people.

Those who are of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani or other Asian ethnicity, and those of Caribbean or African origin, had between 10 and 50 per cent higher risk of death than those in the white British group, the agency said.

This supports previous studies in the UK, Finland and the US.

But the analysis, which was to examine why a disproportionate number of people from the groups died from the virus, “did not account for the effect of occupation, co-morbidities or obesity”.

“Black and ethnic minority people more likely to catch and die from Covid-19," the report said.

"These are important factors because they are associated with the risk of acquiring Covid-19, the risk of dying, or both."

But the report did assess age, gender, geography, deprivation, ethnicity and pre-existing health conditions.

The health agency said the largest disparity in death rates was in age, with people older than 80 being 70 times more likely to die than those under 40.

Men were also more likely to die than women, with death rates higher in deprived and urban areas.

“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,” the research found.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Parliament: "Black lives matter, as do those of the poorest areas of our country.

"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.

"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."

Updated: June 3, 2020 02:31 AM

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