By: Pramod Thomas
Black and south Asian people in the UK urged to get jabs to cut higher Covid death rates
DOCTORS have urged unvaccinated black and south Asian people to get their Covid jabs as new data revealed that hospitalisations and deaths are higher in those groups, reported The Guardian.
Infections were higher in many black and Asian groups during Britain’s first two waves of Covid but recently the pattern has shifted, with infections now more common among white people. However, their death rates remain relatively low.
The new data, published on Friday (3) in the final government report on understanding and tackling Covid-19 disparities, suggest that poor vaccine coverage is now a major reason for severe Covid in some black and Asian groups.
According to Dr Raghib Ali, the government’s independent adviser on Covid-19 and ethnicity, evidence gathered over the past year showed that higher death rates seen in ethnic minorities in the first two waves of the pandemic were primarily due to a higher risk of infection, particularly among older people.
Living in a densely populated area, working in public-facing roles such as health and social care, and living in larger and multigenerational households are said to be the major contributing factors for the higher death rate.
“In the third wave to date, a different pattern is emerging with infection rates in ethnic minorities now lower than in whites, but rates of hospital admissions and deaths are still higher, with the pattern now matching levels of vaccine uptake in older and other higher-risk groups,” Dr Ali, who wrote the report, was quoted as saying by the newspaper. “I’m confident this is being driven by vaccination rates.”
According to an Oxford University study, vaccine coverage has reached more than 90 per cent among white people, but is 20 percentage points lower among black groups, with coverage among south Asian people halfway between the two.
“Although vaccine uptake in all ethnic minorities has increased very significantly over the last year, the proportion unvaccinated is roughly twice as high in south Asian people and four times as high in Black people,” Ali told The Guardian.
The report has revealed that differences in infection rates in the first wave were largely driven by occupational risk, with black Africans and black Caribbeans in health and social care particularly exposed to the virus.
In the second wave, when many schools were open, Bangladeshi and Pakistani groups were at greater risk because they were more likely than others to live in multigenerational houses, where children brought the virus home to more vulnerable older relatives.
The report also highlighted obesity, diabetes and hypertension as risk factors for severe disease and death, and a gene that is nearly four times more common in south Asian people than Europeans, which doubles the risk of respiratory failure and death from Covid.
Neena Modi, professor of neonatal medicine at Imperial College London, told the newspaper that it was disappointing the report did not highlight the toll Covid has taken on pregnant women who make up a disproportionate number of the women in intensive care.
Last month, Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, urged pregnant women to get vaccinated, adding that almost all pregnant women admitted to hospital and intensive care were unvaccinated, the report added.