He is soft-spoken, considerate and ever so humble. If you met Prof Kamlesh Khunti in the street, you probably would not give him a second glance.
But as the professor of primary care for diabetes and vascular medicine at the University of Leicester, Khunti is regarded as the world’s foremost expert in his field. That is remarkable in itself. But when you add that in the year of Covid, he turned his academic brain to how the virus was affecting us, you sense how extraordinary he is. “On April 1, I had colleagues from the Midlands and London who contacted me. One phoned, and others emailed me, and said ‘Kamlesh, we’re seeing more patients who are Asian at a young age with Covid in intensive care. You do research, is there anything going on?’ So, I put a tweet out, and I had a few trolls saying I’m scare-mongering and things like that. But three days later, the intensive care unit report came out that showed south Asian and black people represented about 35 per cent of the beds, compared to their population level of 14 per cent. Since then, the work has increased a lot more, we’re doing a lot more and others are doing a lot more.”
Since April, his feet have not touched the ground and, along with colleagues, Khunti has written academic paper after academic paper warning, advising and highlighting factors which make the disease worse for certain groups. “We’re looking at determinants, what are the factors that are affecting this increased risk? We’ll never find out, but we’ve reviewed a lot of the literature. We’ve conducted a lot of the studies, and there are some things that are coming up,” he reveals to the GG2 Power List.
“Things like deprivation, age, male comorbidities. We know