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BAME groups face ‘two to three times’ higher risk of dying, says study


File photo: A specially trained volunteer at a temporary mortuary erected in the car park of Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif on April 19, 2020 in Birmingham. (Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
File photo: A specially trained volunteer at a temporary mortuary erected in the car park of Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif on April 19, 2020 in Birmingham. (Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

THE risk of dying from coronavirus is two to three times higher for England’s black and minority ethnic communities, according to an academic analysis of health service data reported Thursday.

The study, by University College London (UCL), is the latest to suggest that the Covid-19 illness hits ethnic minorities in Britain and other Western countries disproportionately hard.

UCL researchers mined data from the state-run National Health Service (NHS) of patients who had tested positive for the virus and died in hospitals in England from March 1 to April 21.

They found the average risk of death was “around two to three times higher” for black, Asian and other ethnic minority groups when compared to the general population.

The risk of death for people of Pakistani heritage was 3.29 times higher, for a black African background it was 3.24 times higher and 2.41 times higher for Bangladeshi.

Black Caribbean communities were 2.21 times more at risk, and Indian groups 1.7 times.

In contrast the researchers, who analysed 16,272 deaths from the virus in the study period — though ethnicity was missing in nearly 10 percent of cases — discovered a lower fatality risk for white populations in England.

“Rather than being an equaliser, this work shows that mortality with Covid-19 is disproportionately higher in black, Asian and minority ethnic groups,” said UCL’s Delan Devakumar, the study’s co-author.

“It is essential to tackle the underlying social and economic risk factors and barriers to healthcare that lead to these unjust deaths.”

The analysis, which is awaiting peer review, follows other recent British studies showing people in disadvantaged areas — typically more heavily populated by ethnic minorities — had been worse hit by the virus.

A recent assessment by the Institute for Fiscal Studies noted similarly higher hospital fatality rates for those from ethnic minority backgrounds than white British communities.

ONS DATA

Black people and those of Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnicity have a “significantly higher” chance of dying from Covid-19 than White people, the Office for National Statistics said on Thursday.

“Black males are 4.2 times more likely to die from a Covid-19-related death and Black females are 4.3 times more likely than White ethnicity males and females,” the ONS added.

“People of Bangladeshi and Pakistani, Indian, and mixed ethnicities also had statistically significant raised risk of death involving Covid-19 compared with those of White ethnicity.”

Males of Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnicity were 1.8 times more likely to die, according to an assessment.

Scientists cautioned that there were vast holes in their knowledge and cite striking differences in the death rates based on age, sex and ethnicity.

Genetics, they say, might hold many clues that could help eventually reveal a path to medicines or a vaccine that could treat the disease.

Earlier, figures from the ONS had found Covid-19 mortality rate in the most disadvantaged areas of England was 118 per cent higher than in more well-off locations.