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Black and Asian ethnic groups in England more likely to die from coronavirus, public health report finds

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By Callum Keown


Getty Images
Ambulances parked outside the entrance to the emergency department at St Thomas' hospital in central London

People of black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) groups are up to twice as likely to die from coronavirus, a Public Health England report has found.

The U.K. government agency on Tuesday published its review into BAME communities being “disproportionately” impacted by coronavirus. The review had reportedly been delayed by the government due to the civil unrest in America, however the Department of Health denied those reports.

Britain’s health secretary Matt Hancock, speaking in Parliament after the findings were published, said the review showed that “being black or from a minority ethnic background is a major risk factor.”

“People are understandably very 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,” Hancock added.

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The report found that age is the biggest risk factor - with people aged 80 or older diagnosed with Covid-19 seventy times more likely to die than those under 40. Being male and living in a deprived area also puts you at a greater risk.

After stripping out age, sex, deprivation and region, people of Bangladeshi ethnicity had around twice the risk of death from Covid-19 than people of white British ethnicity, the analysis of coronavirus cases and deaths in England found.

People of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, other Asian, Caribbean and other Black ethnicity had between 10% and 50% higher risk of death compared to white British, the report showed.

The highest diagnosis rate per 100,000 population was found in black ethnic groups - 486 in females and 649 in males - while the lowest was in white ethnic groups - 220 in females and 224 in males.

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Compared to previous years, all-cause mortality was almost four times higher than expected among black males in the period between Mar. 20 and May 7, almost three times higher in Asian males and 2 times higher in white males, according to the report. Deaths were almost three times higher among black women, it added.

The Public Health England report said the analysis did not include the effect of occupation, which it said was an “important shortcoming” as some key jobs have a high proportion of workers from BAME groups. It also does not include underlying health conditions and obesity.

“Death rates from Covid-19 were highest among people of black and Asian ethnic groups. This is the opposite of what is seen in previous years, when the mortality rates were lower in Asian and black ethnic groups than white ethnic groups,” the report added.

Callum Keown is a Barron's Group reporter for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. He writes for MarketWatch, Barron’s, Penta and Financial News.

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