A study published by UK health authorities on Tuesday revealed that people of Bangladeshi ethnicity had about twice the risk of death from the novel coronavirus as white Britons.
People of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, other Asian, Caribbean and other black backgrounds also had a higher risk of death than white Britons – of between 10 per cent and 50 per cent, the Public Health England report further said.
It read: “Bangladeshi ethnicity had around twice the risk of death than people of White British ethnicity. People of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, other Asian, Caribbean and Other Black ethnicity had between 10 per cent and 50 per cent higher risk of death when compared to White British.”
The survey was initiated by the government after it was observed that a greater number of Black and Asian Minority Ethnic Community were dying due to the novel coronavirus infection, including the health professionals.
About 72 per cent health professionals, who had died due to coronavirus, were from the BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) background, while they constitute close 44 per cent of NHS staff.
The disproportionate impact of coronavirus on BAME in the UK prompted the authorities to conduct this study.
The report noted that an analysis of over 10,000 patients with Covid-19 admitted to intensive care in UK hospitals suggested that, “once age, sex, obesity and comorbidities are taken into account, there is no difference in the likelihood of being admitted to intensive care or of dying between ethnic groups.”
Dr Veena Raleigh, a senior fellow at health care think tank the King’s Fund, said the report highlighted “profound inequalities” but that there were still some “very big unanswered questions” about the virus’ impact on ethnic groups.
She acknowledged the “time constraints” involved in analysing all the data but said future research has to adjust for pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, household densities and occupations, among others.
The report, although, has not impressed many.
Calling it a “missed opportunity”, Chairman of British Medical Association, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said: “The report fails to mention the staggering higher proportion of BAME healthcare workers who have tragically died from Covid-19, with more than 90 per cent of doctors being from the BAME backgrounds.”
“The report has also missed the opportunity for looking at occupational factors; the BMA [British Medical Association] was clear that we needed to understand how job roles, exposure to the virus and availability of PPE were risk factors. The BMA and the wider community were hoping for a clear action plan to tackle the issues, not a reiteration of what we already know. We need practical guidance, particularly in relation to how healthcare workers and others working in public-facing roles will be protected,” Dr Chaand Nagpaul said.
Dr. Nagpaul further said, “With the global conversation so focused on inequalities and discrimination, it is for the government to instil confidence that all people will be protected equally. We need action, and we need action now.”
Meanwhile, BMA said, “We need action now.”
The thought finds resonance with Leader of Opposition Sir Keir Starmer who said, “No mention of structural inequalities. No recommendations. No answers. No action. Coronavirus thrives on inequality. Inequality thrives on inaction. The Government must act now to protect the BAME communities.”
On being asked about the action plan during the daily press briefing, Downing street Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Absolutely, we need to go through the next stage of work to make sure that we take into account all of the different considerations.”
The death toll due to the novel coronavirus in the UK has passed the 50,000-mark, according to the official figures, which is highest in Europe and second highest in the world after the US.